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Customs introduces biometric identity cards for agents
February, 29th 2012

The Mumbai customs department has inaugurated a biometric identification card project for its agents. To reduce the risk of identity theft at the time of filing of documents for delivery, the Customs department has, on a pilot-basis, decided to issue biometric ID-cards with photograph as well as finger-print identification. This is a two-month pilot project.

In the last two years, about eight to ten fraudulent cases of unscrupulous elements being given access to the centres were brought to our notice.

The introduction of the card will help deal with this problem as the agent will have to be validated by the system, said Mr C.S. Prasad, Chief Commissioner, Mumbai Zone II.

He added that the pilot project being launched in Mumbai gains significance in light of the fact that the maximum customs revenue is generated in Mumbai. At 33 per cent of the total revenue, Mumbai contributes about Rs 51,000 crore, he said.

Card readers placed at strategic locations within Customs jurisdiction like EDI Service Centres where import/export cargo clearance documents are filed, will screen the card holder biometrically through finger-print readers or cameras and identify the individual as the presenter of the biometric card, said a release from the department. The ID card, a plastic laminated card, would be needed for filing of documents at the delivery centres.

The thumb impression of the agent holder is required for entry into the centre. Once the access is granted, it is flashed across all centres, said Mr S.K. Goel, Chairman, Central Board of Excise and Customs. The total investment in the project, which took about one and a half years to develop, is Rs 92 lakh. The technology used for the project was developed by Mumbai-based Interface Digital Solutions.

A cardholder will have to pay Rs 500 for a card, which is ten times more than what they had to shell out earlier for the paper-based I-cards.

Earlier, we would charge Rs 50/card, but the agent would have to apply for the card multiple times because they would tear or get spoiled easily, said Ms. Shobha Chary, Chief Commissioner of Customs Mumbai Zone I.

She also added that the department was confident of recovering the cost of the project through the issue of the cards.

Already 10,000 cards have been issued, with another 15,000 cards to be issued in the next few days.

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