Pay your passport processing fees online

In a bid to offer smooth Passport services, Indian government, starting from June 21, 2013, is offering an option of paying passport fees and booking an appointment with the passport office online.

According to an official statement released by Ministry of External Affairs, the ministry has implemented Passport Seva Project as part of its e-Governance initiative thus making passport services a timely, transparent, more accessible and reliable to common man.

An official spokesperson said, “The review of the operations of the PSP for the last one year has shown that a large proportion of appointments is wasted due to no-shows by the applicants resulting in lesser utilization of processing capacity of the Passport Seva Kendras. This has resulted in denial of appointments to other genuine applicants. In order to resolve this issue online payment is being introduced in Delhi from June 21.”

According to the statement released applicants will be paying the fees at the time of booking appointment on the MEA website http://www.passportindia.gov.in, either by credit/debit card (both Master and Visa) or Internet Banking of State Bank of India (SBI).

It also stated that applicants may also use the challan option provided on the website and deposit the money in a SBI branch after generating the challan online. For tatkal cases, applicants will have to pay only the normal passport fee while the tatkal fee will be paid at the PSK. Appointments can be cancelled/rescheduled up to two times within one year of first appointment date.

Travel advisory issued by Australia for India post Uttarakhand floods

Following the severe floods in Uttarakhand, Australia had updated its travel advisory for India to its citizens planning to visit the country.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), revised the advisory saying, “It contains new information under natural disasters, severe weather and climate. There are reports of landslides between Uttarkashi and Gangotri. If you are in the affected area, monitor media for information on your safety and follow the advice of local authorities,” it said.

Under natural disasters, severe weather and climate, it mentioned that annual monsoon rains from June to October can cause extensive flooding and landslides, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. “In the past, floods have affected millions of people, resulting in many deaths. During these periods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply. The high risk of contracting a waterborne disease continues after the water recedes. Transport and communication infrastructure can also be affected,” it further stated.

“If you are travelling during the monsoon season, you should contact your tour operators to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in India overall because of the risk of terrorism, civil unrest, crime and vehicle accidents,” the advisory noted.

Samoa Air to launch extra large seats for overweight travellers

Samoa Air, which gained the status of being the first airline in the world to charge according to passengers’ weight, has introduced extra large seats for overweight passengers.

Chris Langton, Chief Executive, Samoa Air, said, “the airline is fitting its entire fleet of propeller aircraft with a special XL row with more space between seats and an extra 14 inches of space for each passenger. The seats will cater to passengers weighing in excess of 20 stone (1 stone = 6.35029 kgs). On the Pacific island of Samoa, more than 80 per cent of the population over the age of 15 years are regarded as overweight. The airline had also added a special ramp on its planes to allow for easier access for large passengers.”