Applied for a passport recently? Expect a considerable delay before you get it. The Nashik-based Indian Security Press (ISP), the only place where passports are printed in the country, was shut for a couple of weeks due to the shortage of a special raw material. Though the printing of passports resumed last week, the shutdown and the resultant backlog means lakhs of applicants will have to wait longer before getting the all-important document.
A source from ISP said the special material is imported from foreign countries. It was made available after the external affairs ministry intervened.
An urgent meeting of ministry officials was called in Delhi a few days ago. A senior ministry official told dna: “The material was provided to ISP after the meeting and the printing resumed on January 21. ISP officials have been told to print more passport booklets in the coming days to deal with the shortage.”
Lakhs of people have been affected because of the ISP shutdown. At the Delhi centre, 25,000 new applicants are waiting for their passports. “The scenario will continue for a couple of weeks across the country,” an official said.
In Mumbai, officials from the special branch and city police who verify details of passport applicants said they haven’t received a single application since January 17. “The situation is the same today. Several people are questioning us about the delay,” said an official from the Mumbai police.
The situation in Pune was better. “There was an acute shortage, but we got 4,000 booklets from the ISP recently. As many as 950 people apply for passports every day here,” said Narendra Singh, regional passport officer in Pune.
The ISP is responsible for printing security papers, judicial and non-judicial stamp papers, RBI and SBI cheque books, postage stamps, passports, promissory notes, postal orders, savings certificates and other security documents.
(With inputs from Shahkar Abidi)