President launches E-passport system

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New Delhi, Jun 25 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today launched India's ambitious E-Passport system which will carry the entire bio-metric information of a passport holder, including personal data and finger prints, in a computer chip to prevent misuse and impersonation.

India now joins the group of 42 select countries which have introduced the system.

After the launch at a special function at Rashtrapati Bhavan, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee presented E-Passports to Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The system would be introduced in a phased manner and initially, E-Passports would be given to officials. The general public would be eligible within a year.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Patil said the introduction of E-Passports would make the country's passport system more secure against fraudulent misuse and tampering and would also make it easier for the people to cross border control points.

The President said with India's rising international profile and growing global linkages, travel from the country had become far more frequent. Passport services, therefore, needed to be extended to many more people.

Ms Patil said passport issuance is an area where the governement had to constantly balance the need of security with making passport and travel facilities easier for the people.

''The introduction of E-Passports will make our passports more secure against fraudulent misuse and tampering and will make it easier for our citizens to cross border control points with E-Passport reading facilities,'' she said.

She asked the Central Passport Organisation to continue upgrading its service levels to cope with the rapidly-growing demand for passports.

The system, which was introduced with the assistance of the National Informatics Centre (NIC), India Security Press, Nasik, and IIT, Kanpur, would also help in keeping track of the people having such passports.

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