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Nirmal Barman

Published:
2018-06-12 06:58:45 BdST

Govt initiates move to issue e-passports


FT ONLINE

The government has taken a big move to issue about three crore higher technology-based e-passports for the citizens of the country aiming to make Bangladeshi passports more safe and secured.

The Department of Immigration and Passports under the Ministry of Home Affairs will implement a project titled, ‘Bangladesh e-Passport and formulation of automated border control management’ to issue e-passports. The project costs about Taka 4,636 crore to be entirely borne from the state exchequer.

“The Planning Commission has already received a draft project proposal to this end and after necessary formalities, the project is likely to be placed before the ECNEC meeting soon,” said a senior Planning Commission official.

The project is included as a new unapproved project without allocation in the revised Annual Development Programme of the outgoing fiscal (FY18) and it is scheduled to be implemented during July 2018 to June 2028.

The project area covers the main office of the Department of Immigration and Passports in Dhaka, Diplomatic Passport Office, data centre, passport assembly line, personalisation centre and training centre in Dhaka.

The project will also be implemented at all the 72 regional passport offices in 64 districts, some 80 Bangladesh missions abroad, disaster recovery centre in Jashore, three international airports in the country, automated border control system at two land ports and 22 other border control system, 72 SB or DSB offices and the reference point at Munich in Germany.

According to the Home Ministry, the ECNEC approved the ‘Introduction of machine readable passport and machine readable visa in Bangladesh’ project on March 19, 2009. The government used to issue hand-made passports before April 1, 2010 for which the Bangladeshi citizens had to face various hassles in traveling to other countries side by side there were also scopes for forgery.

On April 1, 2010, the government introduced the machine readable passports (MRPs) and visas in line with the guideline of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), but the current MRPs do not have the scope for preserving the print of 10 fingers of a passport holder in the database.

Under the circumstances, there is a need to introduce the modern technology-based e-passports in the country to further enhance the security of the Bangladeshi passports apart from increasing the acceptability of Bangladeshi passports.

E-passports are already in operation in about 119 countries across the world since those are more safe and secured than the MRPs. Earlier, on April 24, 2016, during the inauguration of passport service week, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave the directives for initiating the process for lunching e-passports in the country.

Besides, during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Germany last year, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between the Home Ministry and the German-based organisation Veridos GmbH to launch e-passports in Bangladesh.

Veridos GmbH will work with the Department of Immigration and Passports on G-to-G basis and the Federal Ministry of Finance of Germany has certified Veridos GmbH as a government agency.

The e-passports will have some 38 security features. The first chunk of two million e-passports will come from Germany after printing and then the rest of 28 million e-passports will be produced in Bangladesh after installing necessary machineries here.

Data will be transferred to the e-passport database from the existing MRP database. The tenure of an e-passport will be five years and 10 years respectively while the e-passport book will contain 48 pages and 64 pages.

The main project operations include import of some 2 million e-passport booklets while making the rest of 28 million booklets inside the country. Besides, during the making of e-passports, demographic information, 10 finger prints, photo of eye cornea and digital signatures will be collected.

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