At a time when the central government is going all out to encourage cashless transactions across the country, it seems some government offices might have missed the memo.
One of them is the Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) in Mundhwa where, according to Wanowrie resident Deepika Sampat, there is no cashless facility for the public. Sampat, who had made an online payment prior to her visit to the passport office, said she was asked to pay Rs 1,500 for her “damaged” passport.
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“I had applied for a new passport since both my surname and my address had changed after marriage. I had paid online and my appointment was on Tuesday morning… the moment I reached the first counter, I was told that I would have to pay Rs 1,500 as my passport was damaged. My passport was slightly bloated and the ink had started to run. I said I was getting a new passport but they said I have damaged government property and need to pay charges,” she says.
Sampat said she was then asked to pay the amount in cash. She said she also had to get an affidavit from a notary outside the PSK, and that would have cost her Rs 350. “I had exactly Rs 1,500 in cash… if I gave that at the PSK, how would I pay the notary? Because of demonetisation, the banks and ATMs are dispensing limited amounts of cash and this was the last bit of cash I had. I requested PSK officials to give me a cashless option like paying via online transfer, credit cards, debit cards or E-wallets, but they said only cash was accepted,” she said.
Sampat said she had no other option but to call her husband Amish. But by the time he reached, she managed to convince the notary outside PSK Mundhwa to download a E-wallet. “I paid in cash at the PSK but now I have no cash in hand for household expenses. I will once again have to stand in the ATM or bank queues. My question is, why does such an important government office not have a cashless facility, especially at a time when they know cash is so scarce,” questioned Sampat, who also shared her experience with the Ministry of External Affairs via Twitter.
Regional Passport Officer Atul Gotsurve admitted that PSK Mundhwa didn’t have a cashless facility.
“Most people pay online for the appointment before they visit the office. Actual payments are made in very few cases and so far, they have been done using cash. Though there is already a plan to get point-of-sale or card swiping machines, they are currently not here. At the moment, we only have the option of cash payment. As far as this case is concerned, we will have to verify the details…,” he said.