The Cabinet in its meeting on Tuesday approved the National Population Register (NPR), reported PTI quoting officials. Union Ministers Piyush Goyal and Prakash Javadekar addressed the media and stated that the Cabinet has approved an expenditure of Rs 8,754.23 crore for the exercise of Census of India 2021 and Rs 3,941.35 crore for updation of the National Population Register (NPR).
Addressing the media, Prakash Javadekar said, "No proof to be given to anyone during the process (NPR). Whatever you will say, would be correct. All states will use NPR data," said the minister, adding that no biometrics will be required and it will apply to all Indian citizens.
The National Population Register, data for which was first collected in 2010, seeks to make a database of the usual residents of the country. Usual resident is a person who has lived in an area for six months or more, or someone who intends to stay in that area for the coming six months or more. Based on this, a citizen will be issued a national identity card. The NPR is being seen by many as the first step in implementing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in India.
The government plans to carry out the NPR exercise in states and union territories across the country between April and September 2020 – except Assam where the NRC was recently implemented.
Till date, chief ministers of three states — West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot — have announced that they will not work on the NPR.
The NPR data was last updated in 2015 with door to door surveys. The digitisation of the updated information has been completed.
The government is planning to update the National Population Register along with the Houselisting phase of Census 2021 during April to September 2020 in all the states/UTs except Assam, according to the website of the Office of the Registrar General, and Census Commissioner.
A gazette notification to this effect was issued in August this year.
"In pursuance of sub-rule(4) of rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003, the central government hereby decides to prepare and update the Population Register…”
"...and the field work for house to house enumeration throughout the country except Assam for collection of information relating to all persons who are usually residing within the jurisdiction of Local Registrar shall be undertaken between the 1st day of April, 2020 to 30th September, 2020," said the notification.
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 (Registration 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 Cabinet’s move comes at a time when there are widespread protests across the country against the NRC and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.