President launches E-passport system in country

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

With the National Launch today, India has become the first major developing country to issue E-Passports and joins the select group of 42 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 will be introduced in a phased maner and initially, E-Passports will be given to officials. Common people will be eligible within a year.

Speaking on the occasion the President 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 that with India's rising international profile and growing global linkages, travel from India had become far more frequent. Passport services would, therefore, need to be extended to many more people.

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

''The introduction of E-Passports will make our passport 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,'' the President said.

She asked the Central Passport Organisation to continue upgrading their 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, Nashik, and IIT, Kanpur, would help in keeping track of the people having such passport.

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