Five years after initiating the first phase of the ePassport scheme in India, the government is reported to move on the roll out of the much anticipated next phase. Piloted in 2008, ePassports were issued initially to diplomats and other high-level officials. Now, after a successful, albeit long, trial period, the responsible Ministry of External Affairs is said to be ready to begin the process of large scale deployment.
Reported on iGovernment.in, the new passports will contain a 64KB chip in the front cover , storing a digital photograph of the passport holder as well as biometric fingerprint information.
According to the iGovernment.in report, an official close to the Ministry of External Affairs said that the pilot has been tested and now the MEA will be taking the e-passport to ordinary citizens as well.
“About 300 diplomatic and official passports were issued by the MEA for the pilot of the electronic passport project. It now has been deemed successful,” the official said. The pilot project has been successfully tested for security and other related features.
According to the report, the Ministry of External Affairs has recently floated a global tender calling for vendors specialising in supplying electronic chips that is to be used for the e-passport.
Confirming the development, the Regional Passport officer in-charge L Madan Kumar Reddy has said that the plan has been initiated but the project was still in its initial phase: “There are specific standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organisation for e-passports, which India will first have to meet. But since the pilot has been successful, the next phase has to be out soon. The e-passport will certainly improve the security features and tampering will be almost impossible.“