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Make voter I-card ‘multi-purpose’

A parliamentary committee headed by Dr EM Sudarsana Natchiappan asks the government to mandate Election Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) as “all-purpose identity cards”.
Hindustan Times | By Chetan Chauhan
UPDATED ON MAY 06, 2008 01:24 AM IST

A parliamentary committee has found a solution to ensure that 100 per cent voters in India have election identity card. With 28 per cent voters not having one, the committee has asked the government to mandate Election Photo Identity Cards (EPIC) as “all-purpose identity cards”.

The Election Commission informed the parliamentary standing committee on law and justice that voters’ identity cards were issued in Assam, and the number is abysmally low in states such as Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. However, there is more than 90 per cent coverage in Haryana, Kerala, Meghalaya, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, West Bengal and Chandigarh.

The committee headed by Dr EM Sudarsana Natchiappan felt that mandating EPIC would encourage the class of urban dwellers, who don’t have cards, to get them made. The EPIC can carry information such as proof of residence, citizenship proof, date of birth and PAN number, the committee suggested.

The committee recommended that the government should either mandate the proposal of the Election Commission of India for considering EPIC as multi-purpose card or ask the Home Ministry to expand working on the project of multi-purpose cards throughout India.

The Election Commission was also in favour of declaring EPICs as multi-purpose cards. “If EPIC is declared to be an acceptable identity document for all government purposes, the electors will see a value to it beyond the once in five-year poll day usage,” the commission told the committee.

Expressing its displeasure over the fact that 28 per cent voters don’t have EPIC, the committee said that if a provision is made to allow a voter to get registered for getting EPIC on all working days during the revision of rolls, the problem could be sorted out. The committee also asked the Election Commission to stipulate a date to achieve 100 per cent EPIC coverage.

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