At a time when massive protests continue against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, the Union Cabinet approved the budget for preparing the National Population Register (NPR).
The Union Cabinet approved funds to the tune of over Rs 8,500 crore for updating the NPR.
The updating process of NPR will begin in April and will be completed within September next year.
The NPR is a list of ‘usual residents’ of the country linked with locations such as village/town, sub-district, district and state.
Also read: Assam excluded from NPR exercise
The NPR will supplement the upcoming census exercise to be carried out across the country.
It will also help provide targeted benefits under various welfare programmes of the government.
In 2010, the then Congress-led United People’s Alliance (UPA) government collected data for the NPR.
Also read: National Population Register budget approved
As a follow-up of E-GoM recommendations, the government approved a scheme of creation of NPR by house-to-house enumeration to collect specific information of all usual residents in the country.
The scheme was revised in 2011 as capture of biometrics was added.
During the BJP-led NDA regime, in 2015-16, the database for NPR was also updated by conducting a door-to-door survey.
However, in Assam and Meghalaya, the exercise was not carried out and only a few data fields were updated by the appointed enumerators.
This time also, the NPR exercise will not be carried out in Assam.
Unlike NRC, the data of NPR will not be put in the public domain but will remain a secure database accessible to the relevant user through password protected protocols.
No list of doubtful citizens will be prepared under the NPR.
It may be mentioned that the final list of the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published in Assam on August 31, 2019.
The upcoming NPR exercise will update the data/information available under the NPR based on past surveys.
According to media reports, Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is based on the NPR data, which was subsequently used for deciding different types of beneficiaries.
Household wise NPR data was also used for identifying the targeted beneficiaries during the implementation of schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Jan Dhan Yojana, Ujjwala Yojana, Prime Minister Awas Yojna, Saubhagya and so on.
During the NPR exercise, no biometric was collected while giving details like passport number, Aadhar and driving licence is voluntary.
Documents are also not collected at the time of door-to-door enumeration.
Preparing NPR of residents during Census 2011 was also recommended by the Empowered Group of Ministers (E-GoM) while the Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the funds for the NPR exercise.
The West Bengal government led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee stayed all activities related to the preparing and updating of the NPR this month.
The decision came amid violent protests in the state over the CAA.
A media report quoted Mamata Banerjee as saying, “All activities regarding the preparation and updation of the National Population Register have stayed in West Bengal. No activity regarding NRP may be taken up without clearance from the government of West Bengal.”
In the same way, Kerala and Rajasthan also said they would not work on compiling the NPR as mandated by the Centre to record ‘basic information’ on citizens.
The office of Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said last week: “After considering the concerns raised in the wake of the 2019 amendment in the Citizenship Act, the state government has decided not to cooperate with the process to update the NPR to facilitate the preparation of the NRC.”