Usually controversies fade away after a few days of media limelight. But the one surrounding machine-readable passports in Nepal has become like a bad dream that keeps recurring.
Three months after Nepal cancelled the passport deal with India following political pressure, the issue is back in the headlines.
This time, questions are being raised on the personalisation printers that Oberthur Technologies, the French firm that bagged the contract, has offered.
Immediately after the contract was awarded earlier this month, Perum Peruri (Indonesia) and De La Rue (UK), two rival firms that lost out, complained the printers do not comply with requirements.
Oberthur had said it would use printers of Park and OPC, a South Korean company, to personalise the passports.
Perum Pemuri and De La Rue allege the printers are substandard.
Acting on the complaints, the public accounts committee of Parliament has asked the ministry of foreign affairs, which awarded the contract to Oberthur, to probe the complaints.
Eyebrows are also being raised on whether the caretaker government has the authority to award such a big contract. Oberthur is to supply four million passports at a cost of $ 3.59 each.
Taking note of media reports, India expressed concern that supply of low quality passports could have an adverse effect on security across the border.
India’s worry springs from an unusually large number of loss of Nepali passports and use of them by non-Nepali citizens for illegal activities in India.