Hyderabad: If the Regional Passport Office in Hyderabad has bagged the honour for issuing and processing the second largest number of passports in the country, part of the credit goes to Telangana State Police as well. For the third consecutive year, the police are aiming at ensuring the country’s fastest passport verification process.
It all began with the introduction of VeryFast, a technology interface for fast passport verification, with the help of handheld tabs, iPads in this case, by the Hyderabad City Police in 2014. The VeryFast-loaded, GPS-enabled, 3G-connected iPads have made expeditious and paperless verification a reality, according to City Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy.
The interface, along with the implementation of a strict process for verification, has brought the average time taken for verification down from around 61 days in 2012 to a mere five, and in some cases, just three, in 2016. The next fastest verification process in the country, according to officials, is 12 days in New Delhi.
An e-link between the RPO and the police had seen verification reports being available online for the police, so that the iPad-armed verification officer can check and file his report online, the very moment after he has personally visited the applicant’s home. Before this, the special branch sends an SMS to applicants, asking them when they will be available, at their convenience, for the verification officer to meet them. Post verification, the applicant is alerted on the status.
The introduction of this technological interface has also seen the City Police make another advantage of technology come real, of technology being a force-multiplier. Earlier, the city had around 300 passport verification officers. Now, the average number of personnel doing the job a month is a mere 60. VeryFast has made this possible, enabling the police to clear around 1 lakh to 1.2 lakh applications every year.
In 2016, 97,112 passport applications were downloaded from the RPO website for verification, out of which 96,219 were already verified by mid-December.
That is not all. The Citizen Satisfaction Feedback Services of the City Police, handled by an external agency to avoid police interference and to ensure honest feedback, indicate that corruption during verification, mostly in the form of verification officers asking for bribe, has come down drastically.
Feedback is taken on the behaviour of the officer, punctuality after fixing the appointment via SMS, and whether there was any demand for cash. While most applicants in early 2014 reported such demands, the feedback in the second half of 2016 has no such report, with the only mention being of applicants willingly offering a token amount.