New applicants will no longer have to face delays or shell out more money to apply for jumbo booklets and for tatkal service for emergency delivery of passports.
Indian diplomatic missions in the UAE have received fresh stock of ordinary passport booklets, putting an end to the month-long shortage of the travel documents which toppled many expatriates’ summer vacation plans, Khaleej Times has learnt.
This means new applicants will no longer have to face delays or shell out more money to apply for jumbo booklets and for tatkal service for emergency delivery of passports.
A 64-page jumbo booklet costs Dh95 more than the 36-page ordinary passport priced at Dh285. Those who sought tatkal service had to shell out an additional Dh570. These charges exclude the service charges taken by BLS International, the agency that processes passport applications, which could go up to Dh56.
The issuance of ordinary Indian passport booklets was hit across the world by a scarcity reported in early June that was attributed to printing issues at the India Security Press. Following this, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi had warned the Indian nationals who had applied or were intending to apply for passport renewals about the shortage. The mission said only the jumbo booklets would be issued to tide over the crisis and informed about a delay of three weeks in passport delivery.
Senior diplomats have confirmed to Khaleej Times that new batches of the ordinary passport booklets have now been delivered to the missions. However, those who had applied since last month will have to wait as the officials are still clearing the backlog.
“There is no more delay from the prescribed date. But we are still working on the backlog,” said an official at the Indian Consulate in Dubai.
Another official at the embassy said normal delivery of passports would resume in a few weeks. “The issue is partially solved because we have started getting new booklets. But we have a backlog to clear and normal delivery of those passports would still take a few more weeks,” he said.
“We want to make sure that normal delivery of passports from India is maintained soon, so that there are no hiccups later in issuing passports at the normal rate,” he added. Officials said whoever approached the missions with “genuine emergencies” after they had applied were taken care of separately.
Sunil N.M, a Sharjah resident whose wife Sangeetha’s passport was due to be delivered by July 27, was one of them. “We are going on vacation on July 24. After reading about this shortage, I visited the consulate some days ago and informed the matter to officials. They assured that my wife will be able to travel and we got her passport on Sunday.”
Applicants irked over additional payment
However, many others had to apply for passport on tatkal service, paying a total of Dh665 extra if the passport issued is a jumbo booklet. The missions, which together issue about 20,000 to 23,000 passports a month, did not provide figures for the total number of jumbo booklets issued and number of applicants who sought tatkal service because of the shortage.
Sources at BLS International said the number of tatkal applications almost doubled due to the shortage that took place at a time most expatriates travel. Many applicants were upset that they had to pay more though there was no fault at their end.
Ajayakumar Arjun, an Abu Dhabi resident, said his five-year-old daughter’s passport renewal application was delayed, following which he had to apply for tatkal service. “It’s a child’s passport and usually it doesn’t take more than two weeks to get it renewed. Since her date of travel neared I approached the embassy and they issued me an emergency (travel) certificate. But when I took that to the BLS office, they told me to apply for tatkal service again,” said Arjun, who finally received his daughter’s new passport on the day before she had to travel.
Sajith Yousuff, a Dubai resident, said he renewed the passports of his wife and daughter on an emergency basis as his family was travelling. “My wife’s passport was due to expire only two days after our return. But I didn’t want to take any risk. So, I got both their passports renewed after paying the tatkal fee,” he said.