BENGALURU: The smart card which the External Affairs Ministry thought about for Indian migrants working abroad cannot be a replacement for passport. At ‘Videsh Sampark’, a one-day outreach programme of the Union government held at Vikasa Soudha, the ministry officials said the idea behind the smart card is to include all the details of Indian migrants, particularly unskilled ones, working abroad. It can be used as a backup when a travel document is lost. But it cannot be used as a replacement for a passport, the officials clarified.
The day-long conference focussed on briefing stakeholders on the initiatives of the union government for the welfare of migrant Indians abroad.Arun K Chatterjee, Chief Passport Officer, said there is no need for such a smart card. “We already have the eMigrate initiative which stores all details of migrant workers abroad. The passport cannot be replaced since it is an internationally recognised document,” he said.
Last month, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had mentioned about introducing chip-based e-passports. Chatterjee said that the chip will come along with the magnetic trip. “The chip is meant to make it tamper-proof. We may also include biometrics later. It is in the final stages of the tendering process,” he said.
The newly-designed passports are expected to come out within a year or two, according to sources. “Those who are seeking reissuing of passports or applying for new ones will be able to get it,” a source said.