The Centre has begun the process for issuing e-passports for all citizens and is selecting an agency that will set up the IT infrastructure to implement the project, according to an Economic Times report. Indian citizens are likely to start getting e-passports starting 2021.
Currently, passports issued to Indian citizens are printed on booklets. India had issued 20,000 official and diplomatic e-passports on a trial basis with an electronic microprocessor chip embedded in them.
The move is to make forgery of passports difficult and to help faster immigration for passengers. These e-passports will be based on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards.
All 36 passport offices in India will issue e-passports after the components of the personalisation system are inducted in the existing issuance system, the ET report suggested.
The agency set up will have a dedicated unit for preparing personalised e-passports that will allow issuance of 10,000-20,000 per hour. IT systems for the same will be set up in Delhi and Chennai, the report adds.
Emphasising the need to expedite the roll-out of e-passports, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on June 24 had said their introduction will greatly strengthen the security of Indian travel documents.
Jaishankar had said that his ministry is working with Indian Security Press, Nashik, and National Informatics Centre for chip-enabled e-passports with advanced security features.
"I am very confident that the introduction of e-passports will greatly strengthen the security of our travel documents. I understand that the procurement process for its production is currently underway and I would emphasise the need to hasten that as much as possible," he had said.
"I emphasise that it is necessary to roll out the manufacture of e-passports on a priority basis," Jaishankar added.