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Indians won’t need to fill in landing forms

No delay for genuine flyers, but suspicious persons would be questioned

14 Gulf News

New Delhi: Immigration authorities are set to make life a bit easy for Indian air travellers. The bureau of immigration has decided to do away with disembarkation or landing forms.

An official told Gulf News, “The advance information system is being introduced from July 1 and is likely to be fully functional at all airports by September 2013.”

Under the new system, NRIs (non resident Indians) and resident Indians flying home to India, will not have to fill disembarkation forms, nor will the immigration officials waste time going over the details and make the passengers wait.

“Passengers’ details will be sent digitally to the destination airport approximately 15 minutes after a flight takes off from any country. This will reduce time spent at the immigration counter and allow passengers to leave the airport faster,” the official informed.

Dr B.N. Shetty, Deputy Director General, National Informatics Centre (NIC), said, “The system is already in place and we can implement it as soon as the government announces it. The ministry of home affairs and the bureau of immigration is closely involved in the project.”

Shetty said the procedure would not only help passengers at the airports, but would also result in huge savings in terms of unnecessary paper work. Millions of NRIs and resident Indians arrive from abroad every year and the immigration authorities have to deal with piles of disembarkation forms.

According to an NIC official, “This ambitious project was planned about two years ago. We have been steering government departments at the federal and state levels to adopt new technologies in line with several foreign countries, as these ensure both speed and transparency.”

The disembarkation cards contain information, including name, sex, date of birth, nationality, passport details, occupation, final destination and purpose of visit, which is already available with the airline.

Since many passengers fill up the forms illegibly resulting in delays at the immigration counters, these serve practically no purpose and rather result in further delay, as officials begin to correct and re-enter names or passport details.

Even the security agencies say the system would be a major boost in controlling crimes. While the genuine flyers would not face any delay, any suspicious person could be held for questioning, as the intelligence agencies would already have scanned their detailed information.

In normal circumstances, suspects get away easily, taking advantage of the rush at the immigration counters.