Jalandhar region has also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of passports issued in 2017, with over four hundred and forty thousand passports issued in the previous year-at least 50 per cent more than the number issued in 2016, reveals data released by the passport office.
Every day at least 30 people holding passports issued by the Jalandhar Regional Passport Office (RPO) are deported from various countries, reinforcing the fact that youth in Punjab seem powerless to resist the lure of a life in developed countries.
In majority of these cases, the removals have been a direct consequence of either visa overstay or illegal immigration, according to the numbers revealed by the RPO in Jalandhar- a district where there’s hardly a family that does not have at least one member living overseas.
According to the data, most of these people are being deported from the US, Canada, and the UK.
“There is so much deportation work in my office, which caters to nine districts of Punjab, that there is a 10-day waiting time to take up cases,” said Regional Passport Officer Harmanbir Gill.
The Jalandhar RPO caters to a total of nine districts out of which four are in the Doaba region-collectively known as the NRI (non-resident Indian) belt of Punjab.
“These cases are besides those that our system catches on a regular basis when a deported person applies for a fresh passport. Since the entire data of deported persons is fed in our system, they automatically come under our scanner,” added Mr Gill.
Other than removals, the Jalandhar region has also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of passports issued in 2017, with over 440,000 passports issued in the last year - at least 50 per cent more than the number issued in 2016.
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has attributed the rise to the expedition in the passport delivery process.
“Earlier, the delivery of fresh passports used to take over 40 days. Now, they are being delivered within 15 days as the police verification has become faster. Now, applicants can apply for passports by using a mobile application,” MEA Joint Secretary, Dr Deepak Mittal said.
According to the MEA data, India holds third position in terms of issuing passports, but it is imperative to note that yet only 5.5 per cent of the entire Indian population holds a valid passport to their name.