Shri E.Ahmed, Minister of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, informed the Lok Sabha today that the Government has decided to introduce e-passports, also known as Biometric passports.
At first these passports will be issued for diplomats and officials as a pilot project by the end of 2007. Based on the experience gained from this pilot project, it is proposed to start issuance of e-passports in the ordinary category by the end of 2008.
A Technical Committee has been constituted to finalize the technical specifications of the e-passports and this matter is under examination.
The cost of converting ordinary into biometric passports will be worked out on the basis of the technical specifications that are finalized.
The Government has been continually taking a number of steps to bring about more transparency in Passport Offices. These include computerization of all Passport Offices, introduction of on-line registration, tele-enquiry, passport adalats, strengthening of grievance redressal mechanism, etc. The National Institute of Smart Government (NISG), Hyderabad has prepared a comprehensive study on passport issuance system. The implementation of this report will, inter alia, enhance further transparency in the functioning of Passport Offices.