The Union government is planning to introduce new generation, chip-embedded e-passports with special security features for Indian citizens by next year and work has already begun in this direction, according to Chief Passport Officer Muktesh K. Pardeshi.
Addressing a press conference along with Regional Passport Officer K. Srikar Reddy here on Friday, Mr. Pardeshi said the External Affairs Ministry had appointed a task force drawn from various ministries, including Home and Finance to work out the details. Another technical committee is looking into the kind of chip required, the extent of memory and other technical parameters for e-passport.
He said the chip would have the photo and biometric data besides the digital signature of the passport issuing authority.
He said the chip-embedded e-passport would prevent fraudulent practices because of the security features in it.
Mr. Pardeshi said that the government had issued 85 lakh passports, including 13 lakh through various Indian missions abroad in 2013, an increase of 14-15 per cent over the previous year. If the same trend continues, India would reach the one crore mark in 2015.
That would be a huge jump and a great opportunity to extend one crore citizen services as only two countries—China and the United States are currently issuing more than a crore passports to their citizens.
Mr. Srikar Reddy announced that Andhra Pradesh was among the top five States (others being Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh) which account for more than 55 per cent of the total applications in the country.