Malappuram: In a surprise move, the Ministry of External Affairs has decided to continue the operations of the Regional Passport Office in Malappuram which was merged with the Kozhikode office a few weeks ago. An official communication to this effect from the MEA's CPV division, which handles the policy matters on passports, was received by the Kozhikode office on Wednesday. "The competent authority in the ministry has decided that passport office, Malappuram, will continue to function in the existing premises till further orders," the letter states.
Another letter from the MEA has also directed the regional passport officer to extend the lease deed with the owner of the premises of the office up to December 31. An official in the Kozhikode passport office has confirmed the development. The passport office in Malappuram which used to handle 1,250 applications a day had stopped its operations on November 17 and it was merged with the Kozhikode office as part of the MEA's cost cutting drive across the country. The merger was protested by the public and expat community.
Malappuram MP and Indian Union Muslim League national general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty had moved a public interest litigation against the closure which is pending before the Kerala High Court. The IUML had also offered assistance to acquire land and set up a permanent building for the passport office in Malappuram if the centre agrees.
There is uncertainty among the officials in Kozhikode RPO about resuming the operations in Malappuram RPO. "There is no clarity. According to the letter, the MEA has not deputed any officer to lead the operations in Malappuram," an official in Kozhikode said.
The MEA had directed the Malappuram RPO authorities to wind up its operations by November 20. The computers, furniture, printing and binding machineries at the Malappuram office were moved to Kozhikode along with shifting 38 staffers. G. Shivakumar who was the Regional Passport Officer in Malappuram had been transferred to Coimbatore as part of the dismantling.