The government proposes to pursue the manufacturing of e-passports on priority so that a new passport booklet with advanced security features can be rolled out in the near future, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said here on Monday.

The External Affairs Ministry has initiated discussions with the India Security Press, Nashik, regarding the project for the issue of chip-enabled e-passports to the citizens, he said, addressing a function to mark the ‘Passport Seva Divas’.

The government, he said, was also taking steps to complete integrating all the missions and posts abroad in a time-bound manner which would enable it to deliver passport and passport related services to Indian Diaspora abroad in an even more efficient manner.

Jaishankar recalled that the NDA government, in its previous tenure, took major initiatives in the simplification of the passport rules. ”For example, we have increased the number of documents acceptable as proof of date of birth and rationalised the number of additional documents which were required to be submitted with the passport applications. Self-attested documents instead of notorised ones are now acceptable.”

He said the government has eased the process of getting passports for minors by their single parent and also for applicants who were either separated or divorced. Those applying for a passport under the ‘Tatkaal’ scheme were no longer required to submit a verification certificate from a gazetted officer. These changes have been made to the great benefit of Indian citizens who have welcomed these liberalised policies overwhelmingly.

The minister said the state police authorities have an important role in the timely delivery of passports. The average time taken for police verification has come down to 19 days in 2018, and the government would like to bring this down further. In this context, the performance of states like Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Kerala has been exemplary, he added.

The minister said the government has been issuing, on an average, more than 1 crore passports every year. ”It is a matter of great satisfaction that the productivity level of our officials has also increased appreciably in these years.”  In this connection, he said he would like to specially compliment the officials of the Central Passport Organisation and passport officers for this very laudable achievement.

Jaishankar also gave awards at the function to the best performing passport offices. Jalandhar Passport Office got the first prize followed by Cochin Passport Office and Coimbatore Passport Office at second and third position respectively.