Passport Seva Kendra

Today I went  to get my mother’s passport renewed, the experience was overwhelmingly positive. My son Anand filled the on-line application form on Sunday 8/19/2012 and we were done in about 30 minutes. We learned for senior citizen, there is no need for appointment and from the website figured-out working hours was 9:30-4:30pm. So planned to arrive around 9am and as we neared the Saligramam PSV centre, it was a pleasant surprise to see a private  car park next to  Centre. As I was parking I noticed they had opened the centre around 9am and early birds were streaming inside.

As we entered and showed the the online application form, they allowed us to enter the hall and wait in queue. There is an initial document check and they issue token, I had not photocopied second page of Passport, so I came out and in the reception area they have a Photo-copier vendor handily situated. Then we were issued Token and a file with necesary docuements and asked to go to first floor. As we exited the elevator there was an attendant and he directed us to open counter – A7!

The counters have two chairs and dual monitors (one facing the applicant), the young lady manning the counter instructed my mother to sit without disturbing the chair (a digital camera was strategically placed). She quickly got the originals, and walked us the thru the passport application making sure the entries had correct spelling etc. There was some confusion in my mothers address proof, voter Id did not have street address, ration card had wrong nagar listed, so after some discussion the young lady said she cannot accept street name and removed it from the Address. They took picture and figure print scan digitally, in parallel the young lady was scanning the documents and attaching them efficiently. She collected Rs 1000 cash, made a reciept and asked us to wait before counter B. Within  10 minutes we went to counter B7 (there are screens indicating which token is next-up and assistants guiding applicants quickly) and our first encounter with Govt Servant, he correctly pointed out the address in Ration card was not clear and we shot ourselves in the foot and now we need to get a police clearance. I said ok (I was tempted to make a smart-ass comment “this is freaking Id issued by Govt and they not have a standardized way of entering address” but kept my mouth shut). This person also cancelled the old passport

Next we were directed to wait in front of counter C, after another 5-10 minute wait we went to Counter C5 and the Lady official was polite and explained that the passport will arrive first and then followed by police verification. Then we were directed to final  counter where they collected the Token slip and got the fee reciept, scanned it and quickly printed an acknowledgement slip and stapled it together and were told we had completed the process. They had feedback slip, I dutifully filled it and gave we good feedback. When we exited the building the time was 10am.

After all the delay, I think TCS has got all parts of Passport Seva Kendra right and I could not think of any improvement to the process they have implemented!! Clean office space with fully air conditioned, necessary chair. No shouting, no jumping the queue. Trained security and attendants. As I exited they even had a waiting area for those who showed-up at the Centre before their appointment (something for American consulate and German Consulate in Chennai to think about).

I understand there are still issues with getting appointment slot for general folks but this whole step-up is easily scalable and as they open more Passport Seva Kendra things will easy-out. I am super optimistic this is the way forward and most of our other goverment related services will get there in next 4-5 years.

As a bonus, I went from Velachery to Saligraman in 25 minutes and on the way back in 45 minutes( there was nasty traffic because of truck break-down near Chennai trade center, otherwise might have made it back in 30 minutes).


The Ugly Indian

I have always believed change in India will happen lot sooner than we anticipate and my belief has been we need to start with School children and figure out a way to do sustained awareness and education campaign.

I have wondered when I would step-in and start solving some of my beloved Chennai’s civic problem, most of these problems are caused by us not bothering enough to change civic state around us.  Today I got know about The ugly Indian and also enjoy this you tube video . Also you can find them on facebook.

Looks like we can clean India one street at a time and when hit a magical number (somewhere around  30%), we will hit the tipping point.

We cannot stop at being perfect self, we need to initiate change and I am optimistic change will happen in my lifetime …

Inner ring road project progress …

I after a long time cycled for about 90 minutes today and went and personally inspected the inner ring road work from Velachery MRTS to GST road (near North eastern tip of Chennai airport). I was able to cycle upto Thillai Ganga nagar subway! last 100 m of road upto Mount-Medavakam road is not completed (I was surprised that they do not complete the road before they raise the pillar for MRTS in the middle, which mean the road after its laid remains in good condition, some common sense at work!).

The low bridge over Adamabakkam lake is half complete but they have sand road along it which is ok to commute on cycle! I am looking forward to get to Airport using this road in early 2011 – I expect one side of the two bridges to be completed and all roads laid at that point. The other portion will wait for MRTS work to complete in the middle …

It baffles me why they are not planning on building a flyover at the point where the Inner Ring road intersects Mount-Medavakkam road, I can clearly visualize that spot becoming a choke point couple of years down the road.  I have been wondering how I can influence planning of these projects. It was very apparant when they Built OMR flyovers were required in atleast 5 or 6 intersections but they did not plan it as part of initial work (even after hearing horror stories of commute to Electronics city in bangalore)

Here is my long history of  fascination about Inner Ring road ( maybe all things Chennai …)

I grow-up in Ashok nagar chennai and I still remember there were times when we would go to vadapalani temple (in early 1980s) and my dad would point at some portion of road tell me  this is where inner ring road is coming  and its going to connect Guindy and Madhavaram. I think for most part City planning agencies stopped function in late 1970s and failed to provide stewardship for a metropolis that was waiting to grow.  Lots of projects (Inner ring road, MRTS, rail connectivity between Guindy & Villivakkam) that were planned at that stage was setting-up Chennai to be pretty organized  place.  But pretty much the agency MMDA went to sleep, what resulted was haphazard growth of sub-urban area.

Finally somewhere in early 1990 ( I was not living in Chennai between 1988-94, this got completed in that time frame) most parts of inner ring got laid out and bus service like 70A from Tambaram to Avandi got started. It was not until maybe 5 years back that I learned that  the inner ring road project was meant to be from Thiruvanmiyur to Ennore and the portion from Guindy to Thirvanmiyur was never completed ( But thankfully they had completed the Velacherry – Taramani Link road which was a component). My guess is by the time they were about to move the sub-urban area Adambakkam, Velachery became populate and people lacked political will to complete it. Since I live in velacherry now I track this project even more keenly.

I found a more details about Inner Ring road in Wiki,_Chennai