On paper, there are no agents or touts who facilitate appointments in the passport-issuing process. On the ground, the story's different — there are several instances of passport applicants seeking the help of touts to avoid getting stranded in the endless wait for appointments.
While applicants claim their efforts to get an online appointment have sometimes dragged on for months, travel agents and touts claim they can arrange a meeting with officials in 14-21 days.
Karuna Patil, who's working with an IT major, discovered this the hard way. When her company asked her to produce a passport as identity proof, she had to run from pillar to post. Karuna, from Shimoga, couldn't get an online appointment for over two months. Frustrated, she paid an agent in her hometown to get an appointment and got one within two weeks.
"This shows that agents have their way in passport services. The common man is forced to go through them," said Karuna's father Venu Patil , who came from Shimoga to Bangalore to assist his daughter.
Recently, the ministry of external affairs decided to make it mandatory for applicants to pay fees online while making appointments with passport offices on the web. But touts and agents are still able to set up appointments with the help of their contacts in the passport office.
Mohammed Azam, from Mysore, told TOI he tried applying for a new passport for himself and his daughter while trying to renew his wife's passport. "We tried to get an online appointment for the three of us, but the appointment letter had just me and my wife. I went to an internet cafe and tried to get the online appointment for my daughter, but failed to get one even after trying for two weeks. We went to a travel agent for an appointment for my daughter and he got one in just two days," he said.
Thanks to TOI for bringing ou this article. See how our country is using Technology and making life togh.
When such demand for slots exists, how is that online slot booking gets closed every day in few secounds. This iself shows things are not fine with PSK's and look at 4 centers for Karnataka state. Is this what we call e-governance???