The introduction of chip-enabled e-passports will greatly strengthen the security of Indian travel documents, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has said, emphasising the need to expedite their roll out. In his address, via video conference, on the occasion of the Passport Seva Divas, Jaishankar also said the government intends to open a Post Office Passport Seva Kendra in every Lok Sabha constituency. “We have so far been able to provide for 488 Lok Sabha constituencies,” he said.
That process has stopped on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it will move forward as the lockdown eases up, he said. Jaishankar said 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 said. “I emphasise that it is necessary to roll out the manufacture of e-passports on a priority basis,” Jaishankar said.
He said the focus must be on how to simplify the rules and processes without compromising legitimate security concerns which are at the heart of the reforms being undertaken by the government. “We have seen a complete transformation in the passport delivery service especially over the last six years,” he said. More than 1.22 crore passports were issued during 2019 by the Passport Issuing Authorities (PIA) in India and abroad, the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
The total number of Passport Kendras functioning in the country is 517, comprising 93 Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) and 424 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSK), it said.
Jaishankar said the focus of MEA would be to further strengthen the outreach efforts to take passport services closer to the people by opening more POPSKs in the country.