New Delhi: The government on Friday inked an agreement with Tata Consultancy Services Ltd for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-V2.0) that envisages rolling out chip-enabled e-passports, increasing data security and ensuring the next level of customer experience.

After sealing the pact, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the government plans to embark on technology upgrades with the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence, advanced data analytics and auto-response under the PSP-V2.O.

The MEA also said it is working towards opening one passport services centre in every Lok Sabha constituency where there is no Passport Seva Kendra (PSK) or Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK).

“The Ministry of External Affairs today signed an agreement for the second phase of the Passport Seva Programme (PSP-V2.0) with M/s Tata Consultancy Services Limited, our valued partner, appointing them as the service provider for the project,” the MEA said.

Tata Consultancy Services Ltd has been involved as a service provider in the Passport Seva Project for over 10 years.

The financial component involved in the fresh deal is not yet known.

“The issuance of e-passports for enhanced customer satisfaction, increased security and next level of citizen experience will also be unveiled in the upgraded PSP-V 2.0,” the MEA said in a statement.

The e-passports will have advanced security features such as a chip storing personal details of a holder of the document embedded in the physical passport booklet.

The MEA said that to improve the quality of Government to Citizen (G2C) services, the “Passport Seva Programme would be embarking on technology upgrade with the use of biometrics, artificial intelligence, advance data analytics, chat-bot, auto-response, natural language processing, cloud enablement”.

The PSP-V2.0 is a continuation and enhancement of PSP-V1.0, an e-governance instrument that the MEA said introduced “unprecedented” transformation in the delivery of passport related services to citizens.

The TCS said it will refresh existing facilities and systems, and develop innovative solutions to enable the issuance of e-passports and further enhance the citizen experience, using latest technologies.

“The world-class experience delivered at the TCS-run Passport Seva Kendras (PSK) across the country made the service immensely popular and a source of national pride. Accessibility was further enhanced by extending the service through designated post offices and Indian missions and posts across the world,” it said in a statement said.

The MEA said the project design ensured that support functions like citizen interface, technology backbone, call centres, training and change management were provided by the service provider, and the government continued to exercise all sovereign and security-related functions in the passport issuance process.

“The key elements of PSP-V 2.0 are setting up of a state-of-art digital ecosystem, process overhauling and integration among various stakeholders and database, improving citizen interface, upgrading technology, adopting best practices and strengthening data security,” the MEA said in a statement.

At present, 93 PSKs, 428 POPSKs and 36 passport offices are operational across the country.

The programme has recently been connected to more than 176 Indian missions and posts through the Global Passport Seva Programme (GPSP), the MEA said.

It said security aspects, including strategic assets such as data centres, database and the application software, will be owned by the government, adding there would be strict access controls across the system, incorporating biometrics.

The MEA said the attributes of being responsive, caring, considerate, and transparent would continue to be the guiding principle of the passport seva programme.

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