The executive committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) on Thursday approved a Taka 46.36 billion project to issue around 30 billion higher technology based e-passports for making Bangladeshi passports in keeping with other countries.
An ECNEC meeting -- 26th during the outgoing fiscal year (FY18) -- chaired by its chairperson and prime minister Sheikh Hasina gave the approval.
Briefing reporters after the meeting, planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said it also approved a proposal of bhe bridges division for acquiring some additional 1,162.67 hectares of land for the ongoing Padma Multipurpose Bridge Project for which additional Taka 14.00 billion 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 Taka 287.93 billion 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 Taka 169.72 billion.
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 immigration and passports department under the home ministry's security service division will implement the project titled ‘Bangladesh e-Passport and formulation of automated border control management’ at an estimated cost of Taka 46.36 billion 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 immigration and passports department 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 home affairs ministry, the ECNEC approved the ‘Introduction of machine readable passport and machine readable visa in Bangladesh’ project on 19 March 2009 as before 1 April 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 1 April 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 home affairs ministry and the German-based organisation 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 finance ministry of Germany has certified Veridos GmbH as a government organisation.
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.
The main project operations include import of some 2 million e-passport booklets and making 28 million booklets inside the country. Besides, during the making of e-passports, demographic information, 10 finger prints, photo of eye cornea and digital signatures will be collected.
The other projects approved in the meeting are Kushtia Medical College and Hospital, Kushtia project with Taka 6.11 billion, introduction of countrywide digital terrestrial broadcasting (1st phase) project with Taka 2.50 billion, providing primary health, maternal health and nutrition services to the underprivileged women and children of 21 districts with Taka 0,98 billion, Blue gold programme (BWDB component): programme for integrated sustainable economic development by improving the water and productive sectors in selected polders (GoB and GoN financed 1st revised) project with Taka 6.63 billion, establishment of digital land management system (DLMS) through digital survey and settlement operations of three city corporations, one Pourashava and two rural upazilas of Bangladesh project with Taka 3.52 billion, Local Government Initiative on Climate Change project with Taka 1.67 billion, South-Western Transmission grid extension project with Taka 32.74 billion, construction of underground substation at Kawran Bazar in Dhaka under DPDC with Taka 9.50 billion, long-term service agreement for Bheramara combined cycle power plant project with Taka 652.49 crore, construction of double line track between Laksam and Chinki Astana (3rd revised) with Taka 18.20 billion, construction of double line track with signaling on Tongi-Bhairabbazar section (3rd revised) with Taka 21.76 billion, construction of Itna-Mithamoin-Astagram road (1st revised) with Taka 8.74 billion and building logistics and fleet maintenance facility for Bangladesh Coast Guard with Taka 4.48 billion.