| Suspected illegal immigrants being arrested in Guwahati. File picture |
Guwahati, Nov. 29: The Centre has agreed to allow Dispur to use the National Population Register (NPR) database for generating the unique identification (UID) number, a move which will see Assam benefit on two counts.
First, the nod will help the stalled UID process back on track and indirectly help in the update of the National Register of Indian Citizens.
Dispur is committed to complete the NRIC update in three years to help resolve the foreigners issue which has returned to dominate the state’s political landscape since the riots started in Kokrajhar in July. The Opposition and other organisations are, however, demanding its update by 2013.
Second, the move will help prepare the state to avail of the benefits of the direct cash transfer scheme, which will be launched on January 1 and cover 29 welfare schemes in 51 districts of 16 states based on Aadhar (Unique Identification Number). The Centre plans to cover the entire country from December 2013, which could be a “game changer” for the ruling Congress in Assam ahead of the 2014 general elections.
The to-be-clubbed NPR-UID project and the NRIC are independent processes. The former will help create a universal database of the state’s residents, who will then be given the 12-digit Aadhar card. When the NRIC data is ready it will be merged with UID data to separate the citizens from non-citizens. The NRIC would be a subset of NPR-UID and would be created as and when required by the government by verifying details.
“The nod was given after a meeting between officials of the Union home ministry and the state home department today. Now, we will get a database of the number of people residing in the state and the exact number of Indian citizens. Those who are not citizens will have the onus of proving their citizenship. The NRIC update process is likely to be launched by December,” a source in the CMO said.
Another positive outcome of today’s meeting, the source said, was the Centre’s nod to computerisation of foreigners tribunals, which hear cases related to citizenship.
The sources said the first phase of the National Population Register, being undertaken by the Registrar General of India through the state Directorate of Census Operations, was completed in 2010. “Now the digitisation of the NPR is under way. Now that we have got the nod, we can go for collection of biometric information — photograph, 10 fingerprints and iris — of all individuals living in the state. The work, in all probability, will be carried out by the State Directorate of Census Operations, which had collected the initial NPR database that will now form the UID database. Once completed, the Unique Identification Authority of India will issue the Aadhar number to all residents,” a source said.