ALMOST A month after the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution seeking the repeal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and amendments to the forms associated with the National Population Register (NPR) process, Registrar General of India (RGI) Vivek Joshi held a meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday.
While the RGI is responsible for implementing the NPR across the country, states provide the manpower.
The development is being seen as the Centre’s attempt to reach out to dissenting states. Besides the Opposition, some NDA allies have also expressed reservations about some questions in the NPR form related to the date and place of birth of the respondent’s parents.
The government had said in Lok Sabha that it would engage with states which had reservations about NPR. The government has been trying to dispel doubts about the NPR process, stressing that that all questions are voluntary, and if a respondent has reservations about a question, he/ she can choose not to answer it.
Last month, the RGI and Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla also held a conference with chief secretaries and Census officials of all states — only West Bengal stayed away. The NPR data will be collected during the house-listing phase of the Census, to be conducted from April 1 to September 30. Joshi, who will supervise both the Census and NPR exercise countrywide, is expected to meet the chief ministers of all the states that are critical of the NPR, a home ministry official said.
During the outreach, RGI officials will emphasise the need for an accurate Census data and NPR, sources said. The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country, said sources, adding that the database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars. The notification for the house-listing Census and NPR exercise came recently, amid a furore over the CAA. According to Home Ministry officials, most of the states have notified the provisions related to the NPR.
Explained: Who is a ‘usual resident’?
For the NPR, a ‘usual resident’ is defined as a person who has resided in an area for the last six months or more, or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months. The NPR data was last collected in 2010, during the house-listing phase of Census 2011. While updating it in 2015, by conducting a door-to-door survey, the government had asked for details like Aadhaar and cellphone number. This time, information on driving licence and voter identity card may also be collected, but PAN card details will not be sought.
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