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Online glitches spell riches for touts

Online glitches spell riches for touts
Thanks to the technical glitches in the online system of issuing passports, applicants are being driven into the hands of touts active at the Regional Passport Office [RPO] in Delhi. These ‘assistants’ in RPO have their own rates and schemes and even give commission to parking guys and vendors to guide the prospective clients to them, but often fleece them.

The touts or agents charge Rs 1,000 or more per passport to apply online with a confirmed date of appointment and Rs 200-300 per passport without confirmation of appointment date. The touts also have their own tatkal scheme wherein they provide the passport next day for which they charge over Rs 7,000 per passport.

‘I went to RPO at Bhikaji Cama Place to apply for four passports for my family members, but found myself surrounded by touts as soon as I parked my car. One group after the other followed me till the counter,’ said Dalbir Singh, a resident of Rithala.
 
But the long queues in front of the counter eventually led him back to the touts and Singh coughed up Rs 1,000 for each passport to get them applied online with a confirmation of the appointment date on 18 May 2012.

Unfortunately, on 18 May, when he again visited the office, he was told that his application was rejected due to some spelling mistake and he would have to apply afresh.

Second time Singh opted for ‘online application without date of confirmation’ scheme for which the touts charged him Rs 800 for four forms, but he could not get the appointment. ‘I then requested an advocate to apply online, who did it several times, but the appointment date was never obtained,’ added Singh. He then had no option but visit the RPO again.

‘The touts again offered me to provide the passports on payment of Rs 5,500 for each passport and even promised to deliver them to my residence. The fee for ‘tatkal’ is Rs 2,500 to provide the passport within seven days. The price came down when I refused to entertain this time,’ added Singh. But Singh decideded to come to RPO at 6 am the next day and submit his applications physically at the counter.

Pradeep Rithalia of Rithala had also applied online for two forms through touts. ‘They ask for more than double the amount of the fee to get the work done and if you are not ready to cough up, you are forced to run around in circles,’ said Rithalia. The touts even claim that they have access in the office and can get their works done on payment of ‘suitable’ amount.

‘The government has made arrangements for online and physical submission of the application forms. Sometimes, the web site takes time as it is busy or the quota for the day is completed or may be technical glitch as well, so applicants should have patience,’ said an official at the RPO. The RPO handles over 1,500 applications every day.
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