Hyderabad: The Covid-19 pandemic is not just impacting travel plans, but even the issuance of travel documents, if the situation at the Passport Seva Kendras in the city is any indication.
Only 33 per cent of the total applicants, who applied for securing a new passport, are appearing at their nearest Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in the city to submit their relevant documents, apparently in fear of coronavirus.
On the other hand, adhering to the Covid-19 norms prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), the Regional Passport Office (RPO) here is allowing only 50 per cent of the staff at the three PSKs at Ameerpet, Begumpet and Tolichowki to carry out daily operations.
However, that has not yielded desired response from the public. For instance, if 500 slots were released for the convenience of applicants to apply for a new passport or renewal on a day, only 33 per cent of them are turning up. Officials say this could probably be due to the fear of pandemic in the city where a high number of cases are being reported.
Those, who ignore the fears and reach the Passport Seva Kendra, are made to undergo thermal screening before entering the premises. After submitting relevant documents for verification and scanning by the staff wearing gloves at the counter inside PSK, each applicant must give his or her biometric identification on the device at the desk.
Before and after completing the biometric process, the applicant should sanitise his or her hands to enable the next applicant to complete the similar process. A partition is provided between the applicant and the staff using a plastic sheet at the counter to reduce minimum contact between them. Both the staff and applicant should wear face masks whilecarrying out the transactions at the PSK.
Regional Passport Officer E Vishnu Vardhan Reddy said priority has been accorded to the safety of the staff as well as applicants at the three PSKs in view of the pandemic. “In tune with safety norms prescribed by the MoHFW, we are doing our daily work,” he added.
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