Govt approves Rs 8500 crore for controversial NPR and Census.

New Delhi, December 24 (P2P):

Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved the proposal to update the National Population Register (NPR), which seeks to create a comprehensive identity database of every “usual resident” of the country and has been described as the first step towards conducting an all-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise.

Cabinet has approved Rs 8,500 crore for updating the NPR, which is to be done between April and September next year in all states and Union Territories except Assam, where the National Register of Citizens exercise to identify illegal migrants has already been conducted. The NPR database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.

The NPR will be a database containing a list of all “usual residents” of the country. It will be generated through house-to-house enumeration during the “house-listing” phase of the census, which is held once in 10 years and will be done next in 2021. It defines a “usual resident” as a person who has resided in a place for six months or more, and intends to reside there for another six months or more.

Although the BJP has argued that the NPR has nothing to do with the NRC exercise and is part of the Census, a gazette notification of July 31, 2019 had stated that the population register will be updated “in pursuance of sub-rule (4) of Rule 3 of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003”.

The Rule 3 is the concept of NRIC (National Register of Indian Citizens) and its sub-rule (4) provides for “Preparation of the National Register of Indian Citizens”.

The data for NPR was first collected in 2010 during the second term of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, along with the house-listing phase of Census 2011. The data was updated in 2015 with door-to-door surveys. Digitization of the updated data is complete now, officials said.