Siliguri passport centre launch delayed

The Passport Seva Laghu Kendra’s building near Siliguri
The Passport Seva Laghu Kendra’s building near Siliguri

Siliguri: The delay in opening the passport office at Matigara on the outskirts Siliguri has triggered discontentment among people of Siliguri and the adjoining areas.

The Passport Seva Laghu Kendra planned by the Centre more than two years back has come up at a commercial building in Himanchal Bihar, located in Matigara.

The building is owned by Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority and a portion of it has been provided to the Union ministry of external affairs on rent.

“The office was supposed to be inaugurated in April this year but the launch was postponed because of civic polls in the hills. Since then, there hasn’t been an inch of progress. It is disappointing that despite the centre being ready, the Union government is not opening it formally. We have already taken up the matter with the local administration and if required, we will launch a movement,” said Ratan Banik, the secretary of the Brihattar Siliguri Nagarik Mancha, a forum of Siliguri citizens.

In Siliguri, a Passport Application and Collection Centre was opened in 2000. It worked till April 1, 2013, and was closed down then.

After that, residents of Siliguri and the adjoining areas need to travel to Gangtok, Berhampore or Calcutta to get new passports or renew the old ones.

Sources at the regional passport office in Calcutta said the final nod to open the centre in Siliguri was yet to come. “The necessary furniture and equipment have been put in place. We have also carried out trial runs and are ready to open it. But the final nod has to come from the ministry along with an announcement of the opening date,” said an official.

He said they wanted to start full-fledged work from the very first day. Initially, the office will fix 100 appointments of passport applicants in a day, he said.