Thursday, June 20, 2013

Passport Renewal at Gurgaon Passport Seva Kendra

It all started with my Director asking me - "Do you have any problem in going to UK client site for 3 weeks?". I said not at all. But to my utmost surprise when I checked my passport,I was stumbled by what I saw. I thought it will expire in 2014 but it was showing in very clear text - Expiry date - July,2013. So I had 2 weeks to renew it. Though I had known that passport process is transparent now-a-days, I was not sure how transparent it really was. So here is a description of how I went about renewing my passport.
20th April - Tried getting appointment online.Now this is an interesting activity. The window opens at 6 PM in the evening and is closed in 2 minutes. So the first day , before I could figure out my favorite slot, the window was closed.
21st April - This time I thought to just select any random appointment but again I couldn't get it.
22nd April - This time, I logged in before 6 PM and started trying 1 minute before opening.Since internet speed is good in the office, I was able to get appointment. HURRAY - first step cleared.
28th April - Reached gurgaon passport seva kendra at 11 AM. There is no parking so had to park the car at quite a distance. It was hot April afternoon and the tension was building up. I had an appointment at 11:45 AM.I went straight to the guard.He very rudely told me to wait for my turn. I came back to my place and again went to the guard at 11:40 AM . He look at the appointment and guided me inside.Contrary to my previous expereince 10 years ago when as a student I has visited Bikaji Kama place in Delhi , this was quite good. There was AC, water and people to ask for.
                                                  A welcome change I would say. Now coming to the passport documents, I had taken following things with me:
1. Ration Card with current address of residence.
2. Pan card as ID proof. 
3. Online application receipt. 
My turn came after an hour. The first screening process is managed by TCS guys where they check your documents. When my turn came, he asks for the marriage certificate or affidavit since my status has changed from 'Single' to 'Married' :). Gotcha- I didn't have that. He asked me to make an affidavit and come again later. So it was over in 2 minutes. I was a bit disappointed since the information on passport website is not very clear.With heavy heart, I left and went to home and slept.Was in no mood to go to office. First thing I did that evening was to get the appointment again. Due to my previous stint at it,I was able to get appointment with ease this time - 2nd May 11 AM - 11:15 AM
2nd May - Reached passport office well before time. In the confusion and nervousness, forget my keys inside the car.Its only when I reached the office I realized I dont have keys. Anyway waited for my turn. After half an hour my turn came. I had got the marriage affidavit made the previous weekend. Now as an address proof, I showed him the ration card with my address on it. He told me that only cards which are one year old are valid so this is not applicable. GOTCHA again !! I asked him to tell me clearly what documents to bring. He told me that bank statement will also do. He told me to come back in 2-3 hours and it will get cleared. I ran and outside I realised there is no key. I had to call taxi walas sleeping nearby to open the gate. They used the steel scale to open the door. I went to the bank and got the statement but as already so much time and enery has been spent, I thought of going next day since I had heard that you can go next day if you had some document missing the previous day.
3rd May - Reached the office at 9 AM. The guard let me go inside on the basis of previous appointment letter. My turn came in 15 minutes. To my utter amazement and disbelief, he told me how can you come without an appointment. This was his reply - "We had to process 700 applications a day and you are coming without appointment.I had told you to come back in 2-3 hours. Its not possible to process it today. Come only if you had appointment".On my way back an agent approached me - Sir I can get you an appointment. I smiled at him and walked away. That evening itself, I tried to book another appointment. To my surprise , I got the appointment and that too on saturday. I was a bit confused since appointment window is only opened from Monday to Friday but any way I booked it and got an appointment for 8 AM next day.

4th May - I reached office at 7:45 AM. There was no one at the office , not even the guard. I thought was I fooled but then I had the appointment receipt in my hand and it was showing 8:00 - 8:15 AM appointment. I waited for some some time and saw a guard opening the gate there. I went to him . he verified my appintment and told me to go inside. To my good surprise, there was no one inside. After 5 minutes , the same TCS guy came and told me to come over. He smiled at me and said - "Sir aap bahut lucky ho.Aaj 2 saal main pehli baar saturday ko khula hai office".I gave him the document and told me to go inside.Now there are 3 counters from where you have to pass to submit your documents.
                        So here are the documents I submitted :
1. Marriage affidavit since I was married now. 
2. Bank statement with current address since my adress was different in expired passport. 
3. ID card - PAN card copy 
 Be prepared with the original copies of above also. Now there are 3 counters -
Counter A : It hardly took 2 minutes since I was the first guy there. He gave me the counter number here.
Counter B : Here it took the maximum time but not that much. Around 10 minutes - bio metric verification was done and fees was deposited here.
Counter C : Documents were checked here. All the original ones. For education certificate , I showed my graduation degree. It hardly took 1 minute.
Final check - There was a counter- not remembering its name where the guy gave me the receipt and Holla - i was done. In all it took less than 1 hour. At 9:30 AM I was outside the office. I could not believe it happened so fast. I was so happy and releived.But wait - this was only half the battle won. After this I went to the website to check my status. Below is the status list and how it transitioned.The exact words may be different but the context is same.
4th May - Process has been initiated.
5th May - File has been sent to local police station for verification.
8th May - Report is pending at police station.
12th May - Got the call from palam vihar poilce station.That same day I went there. He gave one form to fill. I immediately went to my neighbour and landllord and got the form signed.Again I went to him and asked if everything else is remaining. He smiled and said - "Yaha ka to sab ho gaya". I know what he meant but then I also had decided that no matter what happens I will not bribe anyone,even if my passport takes one year to renew. I will fight it. So I also smiled back and said - "Thank you very much" and came back.

14th May - 20th May - Same status - Police verification pending. Some doubts began to creep into my mind that the policewala has written some adverse comments in my report but then I had not done anything wrong and I was prepared to fight. Some people around me tried to influence me by saying that you should have given him the money and goto the thana and give him Rs 500/- but then i want to ask these people and all the people reading this - that if every one decides not to give the bribe and then only we can remove the corruption. Just thinking that what can a single person do will not serve any good.Anyway I decided to wait.

25th May - Police report has been sent to the SP office.
27th May- Your report has been submitted and passport printing is in process.
29th May- Passport application is under review at regional passport office.
30th - 15th June - same status- Passport application is under review at regional passport office.I decided to visit the passport office. On enquiring about it, they told me to goto the delhi regional passport office. I went to the Bikaji same day. There the guard asked me to come again in the morning since enquiry time is between 9 AM - 1 PM. In the meantime, I also wrote to Helpdesk and Ministry of external affairs. They suggested to visit the RPO. I was deciding to file the RTI but same day , I saw the status:
15th June - Your passport has been printed and you will get the sms when it is dispatched.
17th June - Your passport has been dispatched with speed post tracking number #3434XXXX. 19th June _ Postman came to my home but I was not there. My wife was there. He was demanding Rs 100/- from her.She didn't gave him Rs 100/- and told him to give it otherwise she will call me from the office. So the postman gave it and went away from there. So finally I got my passport after around 2 months. Though the journey was long and tedious but in the end it felt great that my conscience was clear and I did everything honestly.
Jai Hind