The number of passports issued across the country witnessed a surge of 41 per cent in 2014, after registering a slump in 2012-13.
Jagpal Singh, CPIO of the Ministry of External Affairs, in reply to an RTI query filed by activist Manoranjan Roy, said that during the calendar year 2012, a total number of 73,89,558 passports were issued. This dropped by 22 per cent in subsequent year in 2013 and settled at 58,17,515.
However, in 2014, the number of passport issued across the country rose significantly by over 41 per cent and went up to 98,80,000.
Interestingly, the issuance of Diplomatic and Official passports saw a reverse trend in the last three years.
In these categories, in 2012, a total 24,311 diplomatic (in red colour) and official (in grey colour) passports were issued. This saw a marginal increase of 3 per cent next year and touched a figure of 25,130. However, in 2014, the numbers saw a decline by 20 per cent and dipped to 20,208 passports.
The RTI query also found that the Regional Passport Office (RPO) in Mumbai has witnessed a rise in issuance of passports in the last three years.
In 2012, a total of 1.50 lakh diplomatic, official, ordinary jumbo and ordinary normal passports were issued by Mumbai Regional Passport office. This figure went up to 3.35 lakh in 2013 and again scaled up to 3.69 lakh in 2014.
Reacting to the trend, activist Roy said the increasing numbers may be due to two main reasons. First, improvement in financial status of people across the country due to which they are coming closer to the world, and secondly because the issuance process has become seamless and transparent.
Confirming the same, a senior passport officer said, “Our regional officer has been processing almost 3,000 passport applications per day and setting up three Passport Suvidha Kendras (PSK) has also helped us a lot. This is why our region has fixed up a target of issuing four lakh passports in this calendar year.