Controversy has erupted over a new Rs 100-crore emigration processing software installed by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) that users say is holding up passports because it is much slower than the previous system developed at a fraction of its cost.
More than 250 recruiting agents sat outside the Mumbai office of the Protector of Emigrants (POE) on October 9 to protest against eMigrate, saying the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS)-developed system is too complicated and incapable of handling volumes.
The POE, Mumbai, Sushil Kumar, resigned the same day, saying in a letter he was unable to perform his duties “due to lots of short fall in the eMigrate system”.
Recruitment agents questioned the need for change, saying the earlier System Automation Initiative (SAI) worked without a hitch for two years.
It was developed in-house by the former POE, Sandip Roy, an IIT alumnus, at a cost of just Rs 10 lakh.
Deepak Chhabria, chairman of the Employment Promotion Council of Indian Personnel, said over 50,000 passports were stuck because it takes up to half an hour to load a profile now compared with about two minutes on the previous system.
The ministry was not available for comment. TCS refused to comment on the issue.
Early warnings of eMigrate’s non-viability were sent to the MOIA by Roy and his Delhi counterpart, RH Ratra, in June.
The ministry handles nearly 10 lakh emigration clearances a year from 10 POE offices. Mumbai handles half the traffic.
Chhabria said 90% of the passports that were stuck belonged to blue-collar workers looking to work on infrastructure projects abroad.
Many workers are losing jobs because of the delay.
“If I don’t send people on time, clients will simply turn to other countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines,” said VS Abdulkareem, president of the Indian Personnel Export Council.