India became one of the few developing countries to launch the ‘e-passports scheme’ with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee presenting the first copy to President Pratibha Patil at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Wednesday.
The e-passports will be launched in a phased manner. They will first be issued to diplomats and then government officials. The scheme is scheduled to open for the public in September 2009. Mr. Mukherjee expects the government to issue 80 lakh e-passports over the next two years.
The e-passports contain an electronic chip containing all personal data and will help reduce the procedure at immigration.
The External Affairs Minister said the Indian e-passport was compatible with international standards and would protect against fraud since it would be easy to verify their authenticity. The new passports have been designed indigenously by the Central Passport Organisation, the India Security Press, Nasik and IIT, Kanpur.
By Ms.Bobby Aanand, Metropolitan Jury.