BLS International to provide Indian passport, visa services
16 March, 2011
As per the Government of India regulation, the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has selected India-based BLS International, which quoted the lowest financial bid, as the service provider for Indian Passport and Visa Service Centres (IPAVSCs), Indian Ambassador to the UAE M. K. Lokesh said during an interaction with the Indian Media Forum on Wednesday.
In 2009, the Indian diplomatic missions here had outsourced these services due to a significant increase in the applicants over the years leading to heavy crowds at the Embassy and the Indian Consulate in Dubai. Empost, which currently provides the service, has lost the bid to retain its three-year contract with the embassy which expires on April 5.
“This company (BLS), we feel, will be able to satisfy our requirements in this regard because they are already doing the same in Kuwait, Spain and a few other countries. So, they have the experience,” he noted.
“The good thing is that there will be a reduction of 25 per cent in the service fee,” said Lokesh.
That will bring down the fee for passport services from Dh12 to Dh9 and that for visa services from Dh50 to Dh37.5.
First Secretary to the Embassy Arun Jain later said BLS would announce the fee for delivering the documents by courier once they finalise tying up with a courier company. “Courier delivery will continue to be an optional service. Only those who seek the service will be charged. Applicants can collect the documents back if they can,” he said.
Empost charges Dh30 for courier delivery of processed documents.
A change in service provider meant that Indian expatriates seeking passport services and foreigners seeking visa services will now have to familiarise themselves with new locations, contact numbers and website to facilitate the procedure.
However, the ambassador said the officials had made sure that the switch over to another company does not cause any problems. “That has been our concern,” he said.
He assured that the IPAVSCs located on the premises of Indian associations and social clubs would remain, as demanded earlier by community members.
Wherever service provider itself has to rent the premises, there will be changes. These include two in Dubai, and one each in Umm Al Quwain, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi where Empost used to operate out of its own offices or rented buildings. The details of these new premises would be made available 10 days before the launch of the service by BLS on April 6, Lokesh said. A new website would also be functional prior to the launch.
To ensure smooth transfer of the services, he said, the embassy had formed a committee comprising the Ambassador, the Consul-General of India in Dubai Sanjay Verma and two other consular officials, which has been following up the entire procedures.
“We are satisfied that the progress is smooth… We are confident that there won’t be too much teething problems with this service provider,” he added.
Source: Khaleej Times