56 Head Post Offices set to be recognised as Passport kendras
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 10-Feb-2017

New Delhi, February 10: The government has decided to scale up its programme of utilising the Head Post Offices (HPOs) as Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) by opening 56 more such centres in various cities across the country. The main objective of this initiative is to extend passport services on a larger scale and to ensure wider area coverage.

The spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup on Thursday during the press conference said that the MEA and the Department of Posts (DOP) are working closely for the early commencement of passport related services at these places. Swarup further said that the pilot projects for this joint venture between the two were inaugurated on January 25 at Mysore in Karnataka and at Dahod in Gujarat which has been running successfully.

“We have been releasing 100 appointments for Mysuru and Dahod POPSK per day with cent per cent utilization. Appointments for Mysuru are now available in ten days while at Dahod it is available the next day,” Swarup added. The spokesperson also said, “These are clear indicators that the liberalization of the passport policies and the opening of the POPSK have been successful efforts of the Government that have been welcomed by our citizens. We expect that opening of these additional POPSK would further help our citizens in getting passports easily.”

“Following the liberalization of passport policies announced on 23 December 2016, we have seen nearly 30% surge in demand for passports. For example, a record number of 53,400 applications were processed on 7.2.2017 out of which 49,259 were fresh applications. This is the highest since the commencement of the Passport Seva Project. Our Passport Offices are conducting special Passport Melas during the weekends to cater to the increasing demand for passports,” Swarup added.

Notably, The MEA and the DOP had announced on January 24 to utilise the HPOs in various states as POPSK for delivering passport related services to the citizens.

Meanwhile, Vikas Swarup rejected Pakistan’s claim that a top secret nuclear city has been built somewhere in Karnataka, where a facility to develop thermonuclear bombs is proposed to be set up by saying as a “figment of imagination”. “These are completely baseless allegations. The so-called secret city appears to be a figment of Pakistan’s imagination,” Swarup said in his weekly media briefing, stressing that India has always been in compliance with all its international obligations.

On the other side, Swarup also criticized China for saying that there was no consensus at a special UN Security Council committee to designate Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)’s chief Maulana Masood Azhar an international terrorist. China had put a block on a resolution brought by the US and co-sponsored by Britain and France to designate Azhar a terrorist earlier this week.

"We don't view this as a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan but as an issue of global counter-terrorism. We hope that eventually, China will also come around to accepting this view," said Vikas Swarup. "This proposal was not moved by India but by three permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, UK and France. It is our understanding that this was a classic counter-terrorism proposal meant to proscribe a dreaded terrorist leader Masood Azhar whose organisation, the Jaish-e-Mohammad, has already been proscribed by the UN 1267 Committee," Swarup said.

Taking on Mallya’s case, Vikas Swarup said that India has already requested the UK to extradite absconding businessman Vijay Mallya, sought by enforcement agencies for alleged money laundering and pursued by creditors of his grounded airline.

Whereas, describing the steps taken by Indian authority in the issues of H-1B visas Swarup said that India is continuously engaged with the members of the United States administration. “We continue to engage both members of the U.S. administration and U.S. Congress on our concerns pertaining to H-1B and other issues as well. We are also engaging with internal stakeholders in India, Swarup said.