Electronic passports embedded with a chip for fool-proof security following norms of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAI) are likely to be rolled out by the year-end or early next year, said Secretary (Consular and Diaspora), Ministry of External Affairs, Ausaf Sayeed.
Mr. Sayeed dismissed the notion about e-passports replacing old passports and said obtaining them was voluntary. The chip will carry the details of the passport holder in electronic form and this would, in all likelihood, put an end to forged passports.
He was speaking to reporters here along with Chief Passport Officer T. Armstrong Changsan, Protector General of Emigrants Bramha Kumar, Regional Passport Officer-Hyderabad Dasari Balaiah, RPO Vishakapatnam Vishwanjali Gaikwad, and RPO Vijayawada D.S.S. Srinivasa Rao.
Mr Sayeed said the RPOs had done their best to clear the huge backlog of passport applications after COVID-19 through optimal utilisation of manpower resources. The demand shot up after the Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) started functioning fully after the COVID break and the air space for travel opened up. Despite the huge rush, applications under the Tatkal scheme are being cleared within five days and the regular ones within two to three weeks.
The RPO Hyderabad, he said, issued 3.43 lakh passports from January to July 2022. In the year 2021, it issued 4,28,246 passports. The services would be expanded as the government plans to have a post office PSK in every Parliamentary constituency.
Stating that applicants’ interests were of paramount importance, he announced special measures to address the demand for Police Clearance Certificates (PCCs). Every Saturday, people with PCC issues can walk in directly without any appointment into the RPO and their issues would be addressed. “The RPO Hyderabad will issue the guidelines soon,” he said.
RPO Hyderabad Mr Balaiah said those who wish to advance their appointment dates in emergency cases can visit the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays directly along with proof of urgency so that their cases can be taken up on a priority basis. “We are dealing with hundreds of such cases every week and clearing them,” he said.
Earlier, the team met senior state government officials including Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar and DGP M. Mahender Reddy as part of the outreach programme and reviewed matters pertaining to mobility and migration, NRI and diaspora affairs, employment opportunities for the workforce of Telangana, skilling and upskilling of prospective job seekers, ease of emigration services to the blue-collared workers from the state.
Mr. Sayeed also launched a mobile application called ‘T-Migration App’, which has been developed by the Telangana government for migrants from the State.