Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) announced the launch of a pilot project for Passport Seva Project under the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) in two Indian cities – Chandigarh and Bangalore.
The ambitious e-Governance project aims towards issuing a new passport within a time span of three days and shorten queue time.
Presently, issuance of a fresh new passport takes a minimum of 30 days to nine months.
The pilot project in the two cities is expected to run for a period of eight months followed by three months of evalutaion. The entire system has to be operational within 19 months of the contract being signed.
The private service provider will charge a fee of about INR 200 per each transaction for providing the passport facilitation services.
The project has run into rough waters with opposition coming from various sections such as passport employee's union and intelligence agencies who says that entry of a private player will bring serious national security issues.
However, the government has clarified that only front-end and non-sensitive activities has been given to TCS and it has witheld all sensitive aspects such as verification, approval and handling of blank passport booklets with itself.
The Passport Seva Project is one of the 27 Mission Mode Projects under the NeGP.
The Union cabinet had approved a seven point plan in September 2007, which included turning the current 36 Regional Passport Offices into back-end offices and giving a private service provider to set up 68 facilitation offices across the country.
A special purpose vehicle for 'management, supervision and monitoring of the project' has been thought about as well.