As Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) officials in Siliguri announced that issuance of fresh passport had become easier after the government made submission of the Aadhaar card ‘not mandatory,’ people have welcomed such a decision and said those still waiting for their Aadhaar cards can now at least get their passport work done.

An applicant can now submit any three of the 12 documents enlisted for a passport application. However, PSK officials here say the office is short of staff, while the volume of work has gone up with the increase in the number of applicants.

The services offered under the PSK are fresh passport, reissue, tatkal passport and Police Clearance Certificate (PCC), it is learnt. Assistant passport officer Mahuwa Banerjee maintained that the PSK will entertain applicants with online appointments alone.

“Issuance of fresh passport has become much easy now as out of the 12 documents enlisted, the applicant has to submit any three, wherein the Aadhaar card submission is not mandatory,” said Mr Banerjee.

“I am happy with the decision that aAadhaar is not mandatory for applying for a passport. This is a welcome step, and the decision will surely lessen the burden of applicants who are still waiting for their Aadhaar card,” said an applicant.

Another applicant Aarti Chhetri, who is seeking to go abroad for work and who is about to apply for a passport, however, said, “The move does not affect me as I have an Aadhar card and attaching it would not be a hassle for me.”

On the number of applications the PSK entertains per day, Mr Banerjee said, “As per orders, we have been receiving 100 applications for normal and reissuance of passports, 10 for tatkal passports and 10 PCC daily through the online process.”

“Though we can process 120 applicants every day, we do not receive that many applications as some people do not turn up. However, the PSK is short of staff, owing to the large number of applicants. However, the processing work has not been hampered as of now,” Mr Banerjee added.

Drishita Chakraborty, who is waiting for her Aadhar card, and who desperately needs a passport to fly to Dubai on a working visa, is elated. “This news has given great relief to me. I will instantly apply for a passport, and soon hope to join my brother in Dubai,” she said.

The PSK at Himanchal Bihar at Matigara in Siliguri, which has come up on a 4327 sq ft area of a building owned by the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA), was inaugurated by Darjeeling MP and Union minister of state for drinking water and sanitation SS Ahluwalia on 17 February, while the office began work on 19 February.