India Diaspora
Himachal gets passport office
Mar 16, 2007 - 7:22:34 PM

Shimla, March 16 - A passport office for Himachal Pradesh was opened in this popular hill resort Friday.

'This is the 32nd passport office in the country and the first in Himachal Pradesh. It will be modern and fully computerised and will also serve as a Consulate and attest documents and certificates for students and others,' said Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma.

'Currently, some 20,000 residents of Himachal apply for passports annually. They were facing difficulties as they had travel to the Chandigarh office,' he said.

There are also plans to open district passport offices in Dharamsala, Mandi, Nahan, Hamirpur and Kalpa.

'Last year the Indian government simplified the rules for issuing passports. Now you require only three out of a list of 14 documents,' the minister said.

'Last year some 4.4 million passport applications were received throughout the country. This figure is likely to rise substantially after the simplification of rules. Besides, now there is post-issuance police verification instead of pre-issuance verification for security and records purposes,' said Sharma.

He said the time for issuing a 'tatkal' passport had been reduced to seven days.

'Bio-metric passports which have a chip containing details about the holder will be issued for certain categories of people sometime this year. All passports issued from early next year will be bio-metric ones,' the minister said.

He added that these will be issued for a period of 10 years and will help in proper identification by security agencies across the world.

The external affairs ministry plans to open passport offices in Dehradun, Amritsar, Raipur and Coimbatore.

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