GETTING INFORMATION about the status of your passport application is finally an SMS away now. However, consumers will have to shell out some money to avail of the facility.
BSNL would be charging Rs 1.50 per SMS sent by the subscriber to get answers from the Regional Passport Office (RPO), Lucknow, round-the-clock and 365 days in a year.
The Lucknow RPO launched the country's first 'Passport Query Through SMS' system in joint collaboration with BSNL on Friday. Shanta Devi, an applicant, inaugurated the service by sending an SMS and got the application status on her mobile phone.
"Barely 3 per cent of the population in eastern UP have access to the Internet but most own a mobile phone. Any query on passport application status previously meant making a personal visit to the RPO at Lucknow, stand in long queues in front of a counter," Regional Passport Officer, Lucknow, Zahur H Zaidi told participants attending the inaugural event.
He said though the applicants still have other alternatives such as sending a letter by post, e-mail or calling up the RPO to get the desired information but "the launch of the 'Passport Query Through SMS' system would make the facility accessible to millions of applicants in Uttar Pradesh".
"The RPO and BSNL have come together with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) for evolving a simple yet effective technology to make available passport information through the mobile network," Zaidi said.
He said the new service would serve applicants in 48 districts in central and eastern Uttar Pradesh where BSNL has 48 lakh mobile subscribers. Zaidi said the Lucknow RPO receives 1,200 applications per day. During 2006-07, the passport office received 2, 27,864 applications, which had gone up to over 2,46,889 applications as on November 30, 2007.
During May 2007, the RPO also became the first passport office in the country to install a state-of-the-art software and server called the 'passport management system'. The installation of the system resulted in huge improvement in overall work output at RPO Lucknow, he added.
What is the use of starting the sms service when the same standard reply is posted on net as well as the sms " police report awaited " even after three months of application. unless there is drastic change of mindset in the concerned functioneries, the delay cannot be avoided.