The Indian government is gearing up to launch the “Passport Seva Project 2.0”. This initiative is set to overhaul the current passport issuance system, marked by its antiquated technology and understaffing, which have together led to lengthy delays for applicants. The project promises a raft of high-tech features designed to simplify the process and cut waiting times.
International travel and study abroad has fuelled a sharp rise in passport applications in Gujarat in recent years. Official figures from the Regional Passport Office (RPO) highlight a dramatic 55% increase in applications post-pandemic, jumping from 3.13 lakh in 2020 to a staggering 8.70 lakh in 2023. This surge has placed considerable strain on the existing infrastructure, leading to prolonged waiting times for applicants.
Daily, the Regional Passport Office handles approximately 3,500 passport applications, with around 700 needing to be paused due to various technical issues. The shortage of staff at the Regional Passport Office and Passport Service Centres worsens the delay, with the outdated 13-year-old software, developed by the Ministry of External Affairs, further complicating the process of application entry, processing, and delivery.
In response to these challenges, the “Passport Seva Project 2.0” will incorporate digital signatures, advanced biometric technology, artificial intelligence, and interactive chatbots into the passport application process. The project, a part of the National e-Governance Plan (NeGP), aims to replace the current 13-year-old software, which has become a bottleneck in the efficient handling of applications.
Regional Passport Officer Abhijit Shukla shared insights into the project’s objectives, stating, “The new system would not only capture digital signatures but also enhance staff efficiency and significantly reduce the waiting time for passports.
The new software incorporates artificial intelligence, advanced biometrics, and interactive chatbots to reduce waiting time.