150 mn res­i­dents of bor­der dis­tricts may get ID cards

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - HTNATION - Sudhi Ran­jan Sen [email protected]


NEW DELHI: As many as 150 mil­lion In­di­ans liv­ing in 111 strate­gic and im­por­tant bor­der dis­tricts may fi­nally get “iden­tity cards” to prove their na­tion­al­ity and im­prove se­cu­rity along the coun­try’s bor­der. Cur­rently, many of them face harass­ment on ac­count of not hav­ing proof of iden­tity.

The move is part of the planned re­struc­tur­ing of the Bor­der Area De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme (BADP), se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials said on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The Cen­tre spends about ₹9,000 crore ev­ery year on bor­der dis­tricts. BADP aims to meet the “spe­cial de­vel­op­ment needs of the peo­ple liv­ing in re­mote and in­ac­ces­si­ble ar­eas sit­u­ated near the in­ter­na­tional bor­der,” a home min­istry of­fi­cial who did not want to be named.

Arunachal Pradesh, Ra­jasthan and West Ben­gal were the big­gest ben­e­fi­cia­ries of this pro­gramme, re­ceiv­ing about ₹72 crore, ₹81 crore and ₹85 crore re­spec­tively in 2017-18.

The Union Cab­i­net gave its nod to the re­struc­tur­ing of the BADP pro­gramme in the last week of De­cem­ber, one of the gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials said.

The min­istry of home af­fairs has writ­ten to Regis­trar Gen­eral and Cen­sus Com­mis­sioner of In­dia (RGI) to ex­am­ine the “fea­si­bil­ity of is­su­ing iden­tity cards to the In­dian cit­i­zens liv­ing in the bor­der dis­tricts,” a sec­ond gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said.

Apart from is­su­ing iden­tity cards, the re­vamped BADP pro­gramme will fo­cus on cre­at­ing in­fra­struc­ture in the strate­gi­cally lo­cated and im­por­tant bor­der dis­tricts.

In 2017, the Union home min­istry re­viewed the BADP pro­gramme. The home min­is­ter met rep­re­sen­ta­tives from 17 states that have bor­der dis­tricts.

“The re­vamp is aimed at en­sur­ing that peo­ple are not forced to leave these ar­eas for want of bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture. The idea is to make strate­gic and im­por­tant vil­lages along the bor­der, model vil­lages, that have ev­ery pos­si­ble in­fra­struc­ture,” the third se­nior of­fi­cial said.

“It is a much-needed thing and a need of the hour. From the se­cu­rity point of view, this an ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sion. Bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture will help re­tain our peo­ple and im­por­tantly, In­di­ans will have proof of their iden­tity,” KM Singh, for­mer ad­di­tional di­rec­tor of the In­tel­li­gence Bureau and a se­nior mem­ber of the Vivekananda In­ter­na­tional Foun­da­tion said.

The move to is­sue the iden­tity cards to In­di­ans who live in bor­der dis­tricts was also rec­om­mended by the Kargil Re­view Com­mit­tee.

An es­ti­mated 140-150 mil­lion In­di­ans in­hab­it­ing the 111 bor­der dis­tricts of In­dia, may now get iden­tity cards, the first of­fi­cial said.

The cards will be is­sued us­ing the data­base of the Na­tional Pop­u­la­tion Regis­ter (NPR), which records the iden­ti­ties of all In­dian res­i­dents. The data is main­tained by RGI.

NPR uses the “fam­ily” as the ba­sic enu­mer­a­tion unit and was com­piled dur­ing the 2010-2011 Cen­sus. It was up­dated in 2016. NPR has bio­met­rics of in­di­vid­u­als to en­able the is­suance of iden­tity cards to cit­i­zens. The gov­ern­ment plans to up­date the data, based on data cur­rently be­ing col­lected for the 2021 Cen­sus and is­sue the cards, the sec­ond of­fi­cial said.

The data ver­i­fi­ca­tion will be done as per pro­cesses out­lined in Cit­i­zen­ship Rules, 2003 to cre­ate a Na­tional Regis­ter of In­dian Cit­i­zens (NRIC) of bor­der dis­tricts.

The gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to is­sue iden­tity cards to In­di­ans liv­ing in bor­der dis­tricts will build on a pi­lot project done in 2004-2009. This was car­ried out after amend­ing the Cit­i­zen­ship Act, 1955 and fram­ing of rules in 2003 (un­der an ear­lier Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance regime), mainly in bor­der ar­eas in­clud­ing Hira Na­gar in Jammu, Kutch in Gu­jarat, Ma­hara­j­ganj in Ut­tar Pradesh, Pithor­a­garh in Ut­trak­hand, and Mur­shid­abad in Ben­gal. As many as 1.3 mil­lion peo­ple have is­sued iden­tity cards cer­ti­fy­ing them as In­dian cit­i­zens.

These cit­i­zen­ship cards is­sued have in­built se­cu­rity fea­tures and can be ver­i­fied off­line.

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