Malappuram (Kerala), Aug 28 (IANS) Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahamed Monday announced that only those who have not cleared their Class 10 will be required to get an emigration clearance.
'It has also been decided that henceforth passports will not have the page which asks for emigration clearance. Instead, the law would become applicable that all those who don't have a Class 10 qualification will have to get the emigration clearance,' Ahmed said at a function to inaugurate the fourth passport office in Kerala.
According to current rules, all applicants who did not have the Class 12 qualification had to take an emigration clearance before being allowed to go abroad.
Kerala already has passport offices at Kozhikode, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. There are 1.8 million non-resident Keralites abroad, a majority of them in the Gulf countries. Many among them are blue-collared workers.
The demand for a passport office at Malappuram has been a long-standing one.
'With the new office, the waiting period for getting a new passport would come down drastically and applications for 'tatkal' passports would be speeded up,' said Ahamed.
Later, addressing reporters, the minister said that in the first phase, e-passports would be given to diplomats and officials from 2007. It would be given to others too.
'We have also decided that there would be a regional passport office at all state headquarters. New passport offices would be opened at Shimla, Dehradun, Raipur and Amritsar this year. We have also planned for passport offices at Coimbatore and Madurai,' the minister said.
He said that soon more passport offices would have the facility to revive passport applications online.
'We have asked the state governments to see that the police verification are handed over in two weeks, and at some places we plan to have it online,' said Ahamed, who represents the Ponnani Lok Sabha constituency in Malappuram district.
Malappuram is the stronghold of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second biggest constituent of the Congress-led United Democratic Front.
Ahamed represents the IUML. During the assembly polls earlier this year, the IUML suffered one of its worst-ever electoral reverses.
The new passport office is certainly going to revive the fortunes of the party in a big way because Malappuram district currently has the highest concentration of non-resident Keralites.