TCS awarded Rs1,000-crore passport automation project

S Ramadorai, CEO and managing director, TCSTata Consultancy Services has a signed a Rs1,000-crore deal with the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for the passport automation project, the largest mission-critical e-governance project floated by the centre. The master service agreement was signed between representatives of TCS and the MEA in New Delhi today.

Shivshankar Menon, foreign secretary, ministry of external affairs, said, ''The Passport Seva Project, based on a public-private partnership model, aims to provide passport-related services to Indian citizens in a speedy, convenient and transparent manner. The sovereign and fiduciary function of granting and issuing passport remains with MEA and TCS will be our technology and operations partner in this project.''

According to ministry the project would enable it to issue new passports within three working days, and under the Tatkal scheme dispatch passorts the same day, subject to address and police verifications of the applicants.

The passport automation project would digitise passport services and allow online filing of applications. With this project going on-line, applicants have the alternative option of filling the intelligent character recognition (ICR)-enabled form which along with all relevant documents will be scanned and submitted at passport facilitation centres.

''We believe that this mission mode project of national importance will make delivery of passport services truly world class in nature," S Ramadorai, CEO and managing director, TCS. This project reiterates TCS' commitment to help government deliver citizen services more efficiently through technology and process improvements and will transform passport service delivery to the citizens of India.''
 
The project will be implemented under the buy-own-operate-transfer basis with the pilot project to be operationlised within 19 months.

The countrywide roll-out of the passport automation project will take place within six years and the government is expected to open 77 'passport filing centres' across the country in a phased manner. TCS will have end-to-end responsibility of implementing this project.

The passport filing centres will be the primary hubs supporting all activities including biometric capture, photograph, payment and verification and issue of passports in the presence of applicants for most cases.

Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice president, global government business group, TCS said, ''After the successful implementation of the MCA-21 programme, the Passport Seva Project, will enable citizens to enjoy the benefits of a technology-led, service oriented approach to passports while ensuring that the proper security, safety and safeguards are maintained.''

The passports will be dispatched in three days in case police verification is not required or post-issue police verification is required based on passport issuance regulations.

Complete tracking of the process would be possible through the system. Police nodal offices will be facilitated by TCS personnel and it will be possible to download passport forms there directly, thus eliminating any logistic delay.

A call centre would be established to help the applicants with information regarding passport procedures and the status of submitted requests. Grievances would be tracked and closed.