POST TIME: 22 June, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Tk 4,636cr e-passport project okayed
ECNEC approves addl Tk 1,400cr for Padma Bridge

Tk 4,636cr e-passport project okayed

The Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) yesterday approved a Tk 4,636 crore project to make around 3 crore higher technology based e-passports to make Bangladeshi passports to keep pace with other countries, reports BSS. With ECNEC chairperson and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair, the approval came from the 26th ECNEC meeting of the outgoing fiscal year (FY18) held at the NEC conference room in the capital’s Sher-e-Bangla Nagar area.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said the day’s ECNEC meeting also approved a proposal of the Bridges Division for acquiring some additional 1,162.67 hectares of land for the ongoing Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project for which additional Tk 1,400 crore will be required.

Out of the proposed 1,162.67 hectares of additional land to be acquired for the project, about 9.35 hectares will be acquired at the Mawa end of the bridge while the remaining 1,153.32 hectares will be acquired at Janzira end.

The Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project (2nd revised) is being implemented as a fast track project at an estimated cost of Tk 28,793.38 crore to be implemented by December 2018. Out of the five components of the project works, three components — Janzira connecting road, Mawa connecting road and Service Area-2 — have already been completed. The work for main bridge construction and river training is ongoing.

The ECNEC approved a total of 14 projects with an outlay of Tk 16,972.24 crore.

The Planning Minister said the e-passport project has been undertaken to fulfill various international demands as many countries in the world nowadays do not accept Machine Readable Passports (MRPs).

During the implementation of the project, AHM Mustafa Kamal said the MRPs will also be in effect alongside the e-passports.

Kamal said the Department of Immigration and Passports under the Security Service Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs will implement the project titled ‘Bangladesh e-Passport and formulation of automated border control management’ at an estimated cost of Taka 4,635.91 crore to be entirely borne from the state exchequer.

The project is scheduled to be implemented from July 2018 to June 2028.

The project area covers the main office of Department of Immigration and Passports in Dhaka, Diplomatic Passport Office, data center, passport assembly line, personalization center and training center in Dhaka.

The project will also be implemented at all the 72 regional passport offices in 64 districts, some 80 Bangladesh missions abroad, disaster recovery center in Jashore, three international airports in the country, automated border control system at two land ports and some 22 other border control system, some 72 SB or DSB offices and the reference point at Munich in Germany.

According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the ECNEC approved the ‘Introduction of machine readable passport and machine readable visa in Bangladesh’ project on March 19, 2009 as before April 1, 2010 the government used to issue hand-made passports for which the Bangladeshi citizens had to face various hassles traveling to other countries side by side there were also scope for forgery.

The government on April 1, 2010 introduced the machine readable passports and visas in line with the guideline of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), but the current machine readable passport does not have the scope for preserving the print of 10 fingers of a passport holder in the database.

Under the circumstances, to further enhance the security of the Bangladeshi passports alongside further increasing the acceptability of Bangladeshi passports, there is a need to introduce modern technology-based e-passports in the country to keep pace with other countries of the world.

E-passports are already in operation in some 119 countries of the world since those are more safe and secure than the machine readable passports. Earlier on April 24, 2016 during the inauguration of passport service week, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave the directives for initiating the process for lunching e-passports in the country.

Besides, during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Germany last year, an MoU was signed between the Ministry of Home Affairs and the German-based organization Veridos GmbH regarding launching of e-passports in Bangladesh.

Veridos GmbH will work with the Department of Immigration and Passports on G to G basis as the Federal Ministry of Finance of Germany has certified Veridos GmbH as a government organization.

The Planning Minister said the e-passports will have some 38 security features, the first chunk of two million e-passports will come from Germany after printing and then the rest of 28 million e-passports will be made in Bangladesh after installing necessary machinery, data will be transferred to the e-passport database from the existing machine readable passport database, the tenure of the e-passport will be 5 years and 10 years respectively while the e-passport book will contain 48 pages and 64 pages.