Online application facilities for machine readable passport (MRP) at Union Digital Centres (UDCs) in nine districts are going to be available very soon
Md Mazedul Islam, Programme Coordinator of Access to Information (A2i), on Tuesday told this correspondent
"The system has already been in place on a pilot basis in four districts to know feedback from the people. We will review responses on these facilities for two months," he said.
The MRP online application facilities were launched on May 9 in Sylhet and Chandpur and in Kushtia it was opened on May 15 and in Jessore it was available on May 16.
Tariqul Alam, 35, a resident of Abhaynagar Upazila in Jessore district under Khulna Division, told this correspondent on phone that they were aware of it.
"This new online MRP passport application facilities have saved time and cost and made operations hassle free," he said.
Other five districts that will be brought under these facilities are Rangpur, Pabna, Panchagarh, Gazipur and Barisal.
The A2i programme is being implemented by Prime Minister's Office and coordinated by USAID and UNDP.
The main objective of this programme is to provide training on MRP online passport application facilities to local entrepreneurs, and ensure services to local people by using UDCs. Despite availability of online MRP application facility, people across the country were reluctant to use it due to lack of computer literacy.
Mazedul said, "The introduction of district based online MRP pass port facilities thought came into our mind when we observed that despite having the facility people were unwilling to use it," he said.
The use of online MRP application was only 5- 10 per cent across the country and the rest of the people apply for MRP manually.
Realizing this problem we decided primarily to provide training to entrepreneurs so that they could ensure services to mass people in rural areas, he further added.
He also noted that later he discussed the complicacy of filling passport with N M Ziaul Alam, Director General of Passports and Immigration Department and also shared potential solutions.
To ensure rural people's information and technology facilities in 2010, UDCs were set up in 4547 unions.
Through the use of ICT, UDCs have brought various types of information of government, livelihood and private services to the doorsteps of citizens in rural areas.
Operating under the Public-Private-People's Partnership (PPPP) modality, the centres are run by local entrepreneurs, hosted by UPs and supported by central administration. Before online facilities, if anyone wished to have a passport, he or she would have done plenty of tasks such as filling with huge information.
Once the form is completed then he/she needs to go to the bank to deposit money along with an attached photograph and again come to the passport office to submit the application and other papers.
Again the passport office has to type all the information documented in the papers and ask the recipient to come to collect passport.
Union Digital Centers are providing about 60 kind of facilities, the key services such as public exam results, government forms download, birth and death registration, online university admission, data entry, VGD/ VGF card database, livelihood information, employment information, visa processing/ visa form printing, e-mail and internet browsing, computer training, video conferencing, mobile banking, British Council's English learning, photocopying, scanning, photo/ mobile phone services.
N M Ziaual Alam said that the online passport application facilities were available earlier but it could not play strong role due to lack of awareness and lack of practice.
"Realizing this situation we decided to use UDCs and provide training to entrepreneurs on the use of the online."
He said that corruption could be prevented and also complicacy will be resolved.