New Delhi: PAN card details being asked during National Population Register (NPR)-2020 Pretest have been removed from the list of a questionnaire to be prepared for the final exercise and a new question seeking information about "mother tongue" has been added to it, Home Ministry sources said.
The decision was taken by the Registrar General of India (RGI) after witnessing people showing "hesitation" while sharing PAN card details to the enumerators during the Pretest of the exercise conducted between August 12 and September 30, 2019.
RGI is the nodal agency under the Ministry of Home Affairs which would conduct NPR-2020 exercise along with first phase of Census-2021 scheduled between April 1 and September 30 this year.
"To avoid people's discomfort and making the whole process easily acceptable for all, the decision was taken to remove a question seeking PAN card details. However, a new question regarding the mother tongue has been included in the list of questionnaire form for NPR," an official told IANS.
However, other questions that seek details of mobile number, Aadhaar number, Voter ID card number, driving licence number, date of birth, birth place, last place of residence and parents name among others will be intact in the list.
The official said that details of Aadhaar, Voter ID, Driving license and mobile number is "voluntary", there is a provision to penalise if anyone gives wrong information.
As the final list of around 17-18 questions, which is expected to be included in the final NPR form, has not been decided yet, more changes can be done by the RGI just before the beginning of the mammoth exercise, said the official privy to the development.
Responding to a question, the official said notification regarding the final NPR questionnaire is not necessary to be issued.
The Pretest run of NPR faced criticism from many sections including political parties who alleged that the exercise is a precondition to the preparation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The official said the pretest run was conducted on 30 lakh people covering over 5,000 blocks and 73 districts across India.
The official said that more than 80 per cent people shared their Aadhaar details during the pretest run of NPR-2020 exercise.
Amid reports that many states decided to oppose NPR, the official said all states and Union Territories have renotified NPR process and many of them have given the date schedule to conduct the exercise in their states.
"West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Ladakh and Puducherry are in the process to declare the 45-day schedule when they will conduct the NPR exercise."
The officer said that the NPR-2020 will be conducted along with the data collected during a similar exercise in 2010 and 2015 by the enumerator.
Asked about differences in the NPR exercise conducted earlier, another officer said that "biometric" details of 30 crore people were taken in 2010 and it was shared with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) which generated 27 crore 12-digit Aadhaar number, but it is not being done this time.
"After a particular date in 2016, the biometric details were not collected by the RGI. There will be no biometric and no paper will be sought during the NPR exercise this time."
The NPR was started in 2010 by the UPA government led by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ahead of Census 2011, and the preparation for the pilot project began two years ago when Shivraj Patil (May 22, 2004 to November 30, 2008) and P. Chidambaram (November 30, 2008 to July 31, 2012) were home minister.
Following the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, the Centre decided to create the NPR ahead of 2011 Census in the coastal areas for nine maritime states and four Union Territories.
The Modi government, however, has clarified that "there is no link between NPR and NRC".