Giving a thrust to the BJP’s poll promise of weeding out illegal immigrants from the country, Home Minister Rajnath Singh has set a three-year deadline for officials to identify Indian citizens in the country through the National Population Register (NPR) project. The government also wants officials to conduct door-to-door verification across the country and issue NPR cards only to Indian nationals.
The government is also planning to link NPR to voting rights, which means election identity cards would not be the sole document for eligibility to vote.
Singh convened a meeting of Registrar General of India on June 19 and asked them to expedite the NPR project. Officials who have been tasked with the job will be banking on digitised data collected during the 2011 census and will ask people to prove their nationality by producing any six categories of documents mentioned in the Citizenship Act, 1955.
An official said it was a massive exercise and the entire process would be done through the tehsil office, where the revenue officer will monitor the verification process in each district.
The NPR project was conceptualised in 2010 during the tenure of UPA-II but the officials had only been asked to collect data of residents. It was on several occasions at loggerheads with Unique Identification Authority’s (UIDAI) Aadhaar card as both projects had overlapping features like biometrics identification. But the new government has given the NPR project more prominence and larger powers that include the verification exercise.
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“This time the government is very clear about the project and we have been asked to segregate the Indian nationals from the illegal immigrants who have been living in the country. Our people will go to each and every house covered under the census exercise in 2011 and ask for relevant documents to prove their nationality,” said a senior home ministry official.
“In some states, we have also collected the biometrics but where we haven’t we will begin the exercise soon. We have also been asked to take over the biometrics data available with the UIDAI, which was a welfare scheme aimed to reach benefits to the people,” the official said.
The government has called another meeting on Tuesday to tabulate the cost and manpower required to carry out the verification process.
For creation of NPR, the previous government had sanctioned Rs 6,649 crore, of which Rs 4,000 crore has already been spent. “To achieve the next level, which is the door-to-door visit we haven’t tabulated the cost yet. As of now we do not know the manpower required for the project. The government has given us some time and we will be contacting them for funds with our estimated cost,” said the official.
The official said the date and place from where the verification drive would begin will be known during Tuesday’s meeting. “For now we have only been asked to identify the Indian nationals, what the second step of the government would be is not known yet,” he said.