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Govt launches outreach to allay apprehensions of states on NPR

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Govt launches outreach to allay apprehensions of states on NPR
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New Delhi: As states not ruled by the BJP continue to oppose the NPR, the Centre has started an outreach to allay their apprehensions by meeting the chief ministers who are critical of the exercise, officials said on Friday.

Punjab, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are some of the non-BJP-ruled led states that have apprehensions about the National Population Register (NPR) and are critical of the exercise.

The NPR data will be collected during the house-listing phase of the census to be conducted from April 1 to September 30.

As part of the outreach, Registrar General and Census Commissioner Vivek Joshi has met Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and apprised him of the preparations for the upcoming census and the NPR, an official said.

Singh had urged the Centre to put the NPR work on hold till forms and documents associated with it were suitably amended in order to allay apprehensions.

The Centre has already said disclosure of information such as birth place of parents to NPR enumerators is voluntary.

The Punjab Assembly had also adopted a resolution, expressing its opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Joshi, who will supervise both the census and the NPR exercise countrywide, is expected to meet the chief ministers of all the states that are critical of the NPR, the official said.

Several states, including Kerala, have said they will cooperate with the census operations but not the NPR.

Recently, after attending a meeting convened by the registrar general, Rajasthan Chief Secretary D B Gupta had said he and the representatives of a few other states raised objections to a few questions to be asked by the enumerators to people during the NPR exercise.

"We said certain questions in the NPR are impractical like questions related to the birth place of parents. There are many people in the country who do not even know about their birth place. I do not know what is the purpose of such questions and we have told the meeting to remove such questions," he had said.

During the outreach, RGI officials will tell the states about the need for an accurate census data and the NPR, another official said.

The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country, he said, 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 contentious CAA.

According to home ministry officials, most of the states have notified the provisions related to the NPR.

The NPR is a register of the usual residents of the country. It is being prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national levels under the provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

The rules have a provision for a fine of up to Rs 1,000 on those violating it.

The data for NPR was last collected in 2010 during the house-listing phase of Census 2011. It was updated in 2015 by conducting a door-to-door survey.

While updating the register in 2015, the government had asked for details like Aadhaar and mobile number.

This time, information related to driving licence and voter identity card may also be gathered, officials said, adding that PAN card details will not be collected.

For the purposes of the NPR, a usual resident is defined as a person who has resided in a local area for the last six months or more, or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months.

The law compulsorily seeks to register every citizen of India and issue a national identity card.

Assam has been excluded because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise has already been conducted in the state.

The following details are required for every usual resident - name, relationship with the head of the household, father's name, mother's name, spouse's name (if married), sex, date of birth, marital status, place of birth, nationality (as declared), present address of usual residence, duration of stay at present address, permanent residential address, occupation, educational qualification.

The Union cabinet has approved Rs 3,941.35 crore for the NPR exercise.

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