External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj today said that the Government was continuously working towards taking passport services virtually to the doorsteps of citizens residing even in remote villages.
Declaring open a Post Office Passport Service Kendra (POPSK) in the country here, she said her Ministry was adopting a citizen-centric approach for passport services.
"We are committed to simplifying the entire process of passport services with a view to processing all applications in a speedy and transparent manner and have taken a series of reforms," she said.
Part of this simplification process was the recent decision to do away with printing of the last page in passports, she said.
"The government is continuously working towards taking passport services virtually to the doorsteps of citizens residing even in remote villages," she said.
Swaraj said her Ministry has also decided to offer 10 per cent reduction in passport application fee for children below eight years of age and senior citizens.
She further said passport seva kendras in the country had last year processed 19 per cent more passport applications compared to the previous year.
"The Karaikal head post office is the 60th POPSK of the total of 236 to be launched throughout the country," she said.
The launch of POPSKs was part of a joint scheme with the Department of Posts to extend passport related services on a larger scale and ensure wider area coverage, by utilising Head Post Offices as "Post Office Passport Seva Kendra" (POPSK), she said.
Earlier, she handed over the exit token to the first applicant who applied for passport at passport seva kendra.
Puducherry Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said his government was ready to allot land to construct a separate building for Karaikal passport seva kendra and urged Swaraj to expand the Karaikal seva facility in a big way.
He also said that the Karaikal passport seva kendra would benefit the neighbouring districts of Tamil Nadu too.
Thanking Swaraj for taking action to retrieve boats seized by Sri Lankan Navy from Karaikal fishermen, he urged her to organise tripartite talks among governments of India, Sri
Lanka and Indian fishermen to find a permanent solution to frequent arrests of Indian fishermen by the Lankan Navy.
Earlier, a group of fisherwomen from 10 hamlets here met Sushma Swaraj and submitted a memorandum, appealing for steps to secure the release of 26 fishermen of Karaikal district, they said, are languishing in Lankan prisons.
The Union minister is scheduled to visit Lord Saneeswara temple at Tirunallar in Karaikal district tomorrow.