MRP's for Indians delayed by a year

DUBAI — The new system by which Indian expats were to be issued machine-readable passports (MRP) complying with international standards is yet to be implemented at the Indian Consulate in Dubai, almost a year after it was first proposed.

By Prerna Suri

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Published: Wed 27 Apr 2005, 10:13 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 3:28 PM

The move to revamp the present system has been in discussion for the past 18 months, but sources say it would take a few more months for the new system to be in place.

"Since this is being routed through the central government, there has been some delay. But hopefully, in a couple of months, the system should be operational since we already have the necessary hardware with us," Yash Sinha, Consul-General of India, has said.

Once this system is implemented, Indian expats will have machine-readable passports, which meet the standards of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

At present, all the particulars of a passport are scanned by a computer at the Consulate, but there is no provision for printing on the back of the passport. This section requires the personal particulars of an individual to be filled in manually with staff members completing this tedious task. This sometimes results in human error, besides being time-consuming.

A machine-readable passport, on the other hand, will have biographical data entered on the data page according to international specifications. It can be identified by the presence of two typeface lines printed at the bottom of the biographical page that can be read by machine. These lines electronically provide some of the information contained on the upper part of the biographical page. The size of the passport and photograph, and arrangement of data fields, especially the two lines of printed machine-readable data at the edge of the page, lead to enhanced security for the passport holder.

"They can be scanned at entry and exit points to verify the authenticity of the passport data, and hence, it would be more difficult for people to commit any frauds using this passport," said Manab Hansda, Passport Consul, Indian Consulate.

As machine-readable passports facilitate rapid identification, they enable faster processing of travellers at their ports of entry.

"We presently have the printers with us, but it will take a few more months for us to be able to electronically feed the data onto the passports. A team will be visiting soon to ascertain the requirements," Hansda said.

The new technology would also save manpower at the Consulate. "For one, this system would entail fewer people feeding information in passports and this would save us considerable amount of time. It would also help in streamlining the work of the Consulate and greater accuracy will be achieved as human-error would be nil," remarked Hansda.

At present, nearly all the passport offices in India are issuing machine-readable passports. If implemented, Dubai will be one of the few oversees Consulates including New York, to have such a system in place.

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