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E-passports to be introduced by next year

ePassport

The new generation electronic passport, which aims to secure the data and curb the menace of fake passports, is likely to be introduced by next year
ePassportHyderabad: The new generation electronic passport, which aims to secure the data and curb the menace of fake passports, is likely to be introduced by next year, a senior government official said here today.

“A Task Force has been set up to look into the e-passport project, which has held deliberations with different stakeholders (departments). We are planning to start issuing e-passports to new applicants by next year,” Joint Secretary (Passport Seva Project) and Chief Passport Officer Muktesh K Pardeshi told.

The e-passport will replace the existing passport document with a plastic card embedded with an electronic chip containing all the details of the passport holder, including biometric information, besides a digital signature of a passport officer, he explained.

“In 2013, the Government of India has issued close to 85 lakh passports and other related documents globally and recorded a growth of 14-15 per cent over 2012 (wherein 73.6 lakh passports were issued). Going by this trend, we are expecting to cross the one-crore mark in issuance of passports annually by the end of 2014 calendar year or by early 2015,” the Chief Passport Officer said.

“It’s also a great opportunity for the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to extend one crore citizen service every year. With one crore passports being issued in a year, we will be in a group of handful of countries, with only two countries China and US which are issuing over one crore passports every year,” Pardeshi said.

Stating that it would be a great responsibility and opportunity as well as challenge for the passport officials, he said, “We have to scale up and expand our services and have to bring in more efficiency within our passport officials and we always have to be innovative.”

PTI

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