New Delhi: Soon after the Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved over Rs 3,941 crore for updating the National Population Register (NPR) for the 2021 census, the Centre vehemently denied any effort on its part to initiate the process of NRC through the updation of the NPR.
The government’s denial came in the face of political parties like the Trinamul Congress and the CPM alleging that the government is trying to sneak in National Register of Citizens (NRC) through NPR.
Later, home minister Amit Shah denied any such move and the home ministry even issued an explanatory note describing in detail what the NPR and the census exercise is.
The Cabinet also cleared the proposal for conducting census 2021 at a cost of Rs 8,754.23 crore.
Minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that the NPR exercise was initiated by the UPA government in 2010 for the 2011 census work, and the Centre is only replicating it for the 2021 census. He described speculation that in the garb of NPR, the NRC could be initiated through the back door as “baseless and malicious”, while replying to a barrage of questions from media persons seeking to know the facts.
Later in the day the government even issued an “explanatory note” clearly defining NPR and the census exercise and Mr Shah said that NPR data cannot be used for NRC.
Earlier, official sources had quoted the census funds figure as that of the NPR. The updating exercise is to commence from April next year.
The NPR is a list of “usual residents” of the country. A “usual resident” is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more, the “exp-lanatory” note released by the government said.
The data for NPR was collected in 2010 along with the house-listing phase of Census of India 2011. The data was updated in 2015 by conducting door-to-door survey. The digitisation of the updated information has been completed.
Now it has been decided to update the National Population Register along with the house-listing phase of Census 2021 from April to September 2020 in all the states/Union Territories except Assam, according to the website of the office of the registrar general, and census commissioner, the explanatory note said.
A gazette notification to this effect was issued in August this year.
The NPR will be prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registr-ation of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. It is mandatory for every “usual resident” of India to register in the NPR.
The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars. “The government has introduced an app for NPR under which the entire process would be conducted without any documentation or paperwork. However, its usage is not mandatory,” Mr Javadekar said.