Even as the coronavirus pandemic shows signs of ebbing, the central government has once again reiterated that no decision has been taken to conduct a nationwideNational Register of Citizens ( NRC )
In reply to recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report on Ministry of Home Affairs with regard to the issue of fears associated with National Population Register (NPR) and Census, the government has said, “All individual-level information collected in Census are confidential. In Census, only aggregated data are released at various administrative levels.
Like the earlier Censuses, wide publicity measures would be taken up for creating proper awareness among public so as to conduct and complete the Census 2021 successfully. Questionnaires for Census along with that of NPR have been tested at Pre-test conducted successfully across the country. It has been clarified at various levels in Government time and again that till now no decision has been taken to create National Register of Indian citizen.”
The committee—headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma–had in February last year observed that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and fear among the people regarding the upcoming NPR and Census. The “Action Taken” report on the same was on Tuesday tabled in Rajya Sabha.
“A 360-degree approach for communicating the right and clear message on the NPR has been planned to be followed. All kinds of media, i.e. social media, AV, Digital, Outdoor, print, and word of mouth publicity tools are part of the planned media strategy. Right kind of messaging will be done to tackle the miscommunication and rumors around NPR and Census 2021. However, in view of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Phase I of Census 2021 and updation of NPR and other related field activities have been postponed until further orders,” the government has said in the report.
The committee was also of the view that Aadhaar data should be used in the upcoming Census to reduce the duplicity and wastage of expenditure. To this, the government has replied that NPR and Aadhar are separate exercises with the former collecting more detailed data. “Aadhaar number has been developed as a separate database which is being used only for de-duplication purpose and authentication of beneficiaries of various Government schemes,” the government reply has said.
The Committee in its final observation has, however, noted that Aadhar already has biometric information of the individuals and so the already stored Aadhaar metadata of the individuals may be used in creating a family database for the upcoming Census and updation of NPR.
“The Committee also reiterates its recommendation that all the States/UTs should be fully convinced on various issues pertaining to the upcoming updation of NPR to have a national consensus so that there is absolute clarity and no apprehension among remaining people across the country which will help in conducting these exercises in a smooth manner,” the report has said.
Following controversies around the NRC and the Citizenship Amendment Act, several states had said they would not implement the NPR exercise.
The Committee has also flagged the slow progress of road construction in Left Wing Extremism areas of the country. It has said that out of 9,338 km sanctioned roads under Road Connectivity Project for LWE Affected Areas (RCPLWE) only 1,796 km length of roads have been completed.
“The Committee would like to know the reasons regarding abysmally slow progress in completion of these roads specially with respect to Telangana where 147 km has been completed out of 705 km and Chhattisgarh where 319 km has been completed out of 2479 km. The Committee is of the view that delay in construction of roads in most sensitive LWE areas like Telangana and Chhattisgarh is also a reason for slowing down the inclusion and development processes of these regions and negatively affecting the capability of CAPFs/ State police in tackling the LWE menace,” the report has said.
The committee has asked for a greater allocation of funds for police modernisation.
“The Committee notes the shortfall of funds for Modernisation of Police Forces Scheme and feels that the modernization of Police Forces through the induction of new equipment, training and technological up-gradation of capabilities is also equally important. …Therefore, the Committee, recommends that more budget may be requested. Further, a major share of the modernization budget is spent on improving the infrastructure of the police forces but training State Police Forces in relation to its behavior with the public is essential to improve its image as modern-day police forces. The Committee further recommends that it should be mandatory for the State police forces to spend the allocated budget for giving better training to all police personnel,” the report has said. ( Indian Express )