Govt likely to issue smart passports from June

KATHMANDU; The government is likely to

issue the much-hyped Machine Readable Passports

to the people beginning

the first week of June, 2010

after it reached a deal with its Indian counterpart.

Nepal reached an agreement with India to have the latter print Machine Readable

Passport (MRP) within the next 10 weeks, a senior official at

the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said today.

The bilateral decision to this effect will enable India to secure the MRP contract for three years. Foreign Secretary Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Rakesh Sood on Tuesday formally exchanged confirmation letters on the deal on behalf of the respective countries.

“Nasik-based Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India will make the MRPs available to Nepal within 10 weeks,” said Bhattarai. Nepal will

procure four million MRPs within three years.

An MRP will cost US $ 4. Earlier, a Cabinet meeting had asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hold talks and reach an agreement with India for the purpose on the condition that the government would be able to meet the April 1, 2010 deadline set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Nepal is a member country of the ICAO, a UN agency, and is required to introduce MRPs by the given deadline.

With just one week to go, Nepal no doubt will miss

the deadline. The government has formally requested the ICAO to extend the deadline and validate non-machine readable passports for another six months.

Like its handwritten counterpart, the life span of an MRP will be 10 years.