The government has begun the process of issuing e-passports for all citizens and of selecting an agency that could set up the necessary infrastructure for the workload. If you apply for a new passport or plan to renew your passport next year, you might get one embedded with an electronic microprocessor chip. This will not only make passports difficult to forge, it would also enable quicker immigration for international passengers.
So far, citizens have been receiving details printed on booklets. However, the government has issued around 20,000 e-passports for officials and diplomats on a trial basis. It now plans to expand the passports with chips to civilians as well.
The agency that would be identified would set up a dedicated unit to prepare personalised e-passports would have a capacity of issuing 10,000 to 20,000 passports per hour, stated a report on The Economic Times. The IT systems to handle the workload would be based in Delhi and Chennai. The National Informatics Centre is working with the Ministry of External Affairs and has issued a request for proposal (RFP) to select an agency for the responsibility.
All the 36 passport offices in India would issue e-passports after the e-passport system is inducted into the current passport system. The e-passport will be based on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) standard to ensure that it is interoperable between countries.
The e-passport system would be introduced without disturbing the current processing system. The government is aiming to provide 10,000 e-passports per hour with a plan to scale it up to 20,000 per hour and 1 lakh per day.
The RFP stated that the e-passport has international ramifications because of its usage as a credible identity document. It said that security and quality issues must be ensured.