immigration | Airports | Digitalisation
Deepak Patel |
Last Updated at January 19, 2023 00:20 IST
The Central government is in the process of digitising immigration procedures using biometric technology at airports in India to ensure ease of travel for international passengers, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said on Wednesday.
The major airports in the country, such as those in Delhi and Bengaluru, were congested on several days during the last month, amid the peak travel season. Currently, the immigration clearance procedure for international passengers is done manually at airports by officers of Bureau of Immigration, which works under the Union home ministry.
Airports across the world have started using biometrics to create automated lanes for immigration clearance at airports. For example, at Singapore’s Changi airport, the country’s citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders use automated lanes to get their iris and facial biometrics cleared at the immigration checkpoint while entering or leaving the country. Foreign visitors can use this facility only at the time of departure from Singapore. This facility is expected to be expanded to all passengers travelling through the Changi airport sometime this year.
Scindia, while speaking during an event organised by industry body Assocham, said: “One of the things that we are looking at doing, and this is in conjunction with the Union home ministry, is biometrics, and digitising immigration processes, and that process is on as we speak.”
“Certainly, a data bank or a repository has to be created based on which the throughput capability of our international airports also becomes much more seamless. On the immigration side, that is something we are working on,” he added.
Scindia urged GMR Group-owned Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), which operates the Delhi airport, and the Fairfax-owned Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL), which operates the Bengaluru airport, to improve the adoption rate of DigiYatra in their terminals to ensure ease of travel for passengers.
On December 1, Scindia had launched DigiYatra under which a passenger can use facial recognition technology (by uploading their details and a photo on the app), to move swiftly within these airports. This facility is currently available only for domestic passengers.
“The adoption rate of DigiYatra has also been tremendous. About 300,000 people have already downloaded the DigiYatra app at a time when it has been rolled out at only three airports,” Scindia stated.
The adoption rate at the Delhi and Bengaluru airports are slowly increasing, he said. “I have given quite stiff targets (to DIAL and BIAL to ensure adoption of DigiYatra) for the next quarter or so. What is amazing is the adoption rate in Varanasi airport, where it is almost 20 per cent. This means one in five persons is not using the old orthodox system of passing through the airport,” he added.
He said that he was monitoring the roll-out of DigiYatra by DIAL and BIAL, he said. “It has not been implemented across the airport (in Delhi and Bengaluru). I have given them a certain time span by which it needs to be at every entry gate and every boarding gate. Then, you can leave it to the traveller whether he or she wants to go through the manual check-in and manual security check, or use DigiYatra app,” the minister said.
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First Published: Wed, January 18 2023. 20:14 IST