E-passport launched, president gets one (Lead)

June 25th, 2008 - 9:27 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Pratibha Patil

New Delhi, June 25 (IANS) The government Wednesday launched electronic passports, with President Pratibha Patil, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Vice President Hamid Ansari becoming the first ones to receive the secure biometric documents. The e-passports are initially meant only for diplomats and will be issued from next month. The scheme will be extended to everyone from September 2010.

“Around 800,000 e-passports would be issued by 2010,” External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said after presenting the first e-passport to Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“It is compatible with international standards and identity cards. It will protect against fraud and security breaches. It is easy to verify the authenticity of e-passports,” Mukherjee told reporters.

Accompanied by Foreign Secretary Shivshnakar Menon and other officials, Mukherjee later went to Manmohan Singh’s residence to present him the e-passport. Mukherjee also visited Ansari’s residence to give him a copy.

The e-passports have an electronic chip that contains all personal data.

The Central Passport Organisation, New Delhi, the India Security Press, Nashik, and the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur, have designed the new passports.

“I call upon the Central Passport Organisation to take steps to upgrade their resources according to international standards. It will make the passport more secure,” Patil said.

“India is one of the first developing countries to have this system. Forty-one countries have adopted e-passports so far,” she said.

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