‘NPR exercise is obligatory, states can’t oppose it’: MoS Home
His comments came a day after the Kerala government refused to update NPR, a biometric database of all “usual residents” of India that is scheduled to be updated along with the house-listing phase of the Census 2021.Updated: Jan 22, 2020 02:21 IST
The National Population Register (NPR) exercise is a constitutional obligation and the state governments should not oppose it, Union minister of state for home G Kishen Reddy said on Tuesday.
“The Centre will keep engaging the states. We will keep on sensitising them,” Reddy said, when asked about the opposition from states.
His comments came a day after the Kerala government refused to update NPR, a biometric database of all “usual residents” of India that is scheduled to be updated along with the house-listing phase of the Census 2021.
Reddy also said NPR was first initiated by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2010. The database was updated in 2015.
Reddy also pointed to the Integrated Household Survey conducted in Telangana in 2014, in which information on illness, bank account, identification details were collected. “There was no opposition to the survey, which collected more information. Why should there be opposition to NPR?” Reddy asked.
The house-listing phase of Census that enumerates household amenities such as access to toilets, power and internet, and the use of television, and bottled and packaged water, among other things, will begin in April 2020 and close in September 2020.
In the current round, NPR proposes to update the database with details such as passport, driving license, mobile number, Aadhaar etc. “We have clarified that disclosing passport, Aadhar, mobile number is completely voluntary,” Reddy said. Officials also said that providing information about birth date and place of parents would be optional.
Several states such as West Bengal and Kerala have refused to participate in the exercise, saying that it is a prelude to the proposed all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Kerala government led by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has announced that it will implement the census exercise, but will not cooperate with NPR.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has appealed to her counterparts in the North-east and non-Bharatiya Janata Party states to study the NPR form, its questions and criteria before taking a decision on updating it.
The Centre has said updating NPR is necessary to better formulation and targeting of developmental schemes.
The Union home ministry, however, has not clarified as to why data on mother tongue/language, details of date and birthplace of parents, and information on previous addresses have been included in the NPR form.
Census anyway releases aggregated language and migration data. And the place and date of birth of parents have no bearing on policy-making.
“The NPR schedule hasn’t been finalised. However, internally, there were reservations to including language data and also seeking information on the birthplace of parents,” a senior official who did not want to be named said.
Meanwhile, the Union home ministry took to Twitter on Tuesday to say that violating the Census Act, 1948, can attract penal action.
“While confidentiality about your data is guaranteed by Census Act, 1948, the same law specifies a penalty for both public and census officials for non-compliance or violation of any provision of the Act,” the MHA said.
Officials clarified that the provision for penalising for not cooperating with Census has always existed, but never used. “We prefer to seek the cooperation of people,” a second senior official who did not want to be named said.
(With agency inputs)