Assam to begin Aadhar process from next month
The government has finalised a plan to set up at least 270 centres in Kamrup (Metro) out of a total of 8,500 centres across the state for issue of Aadhar Card; the process has remained stalled since the past several years.
Aadhar is a 12-digit number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to all citizens.
Enrolment agencies will collect biometric data like thumb impression, eye scan and a photograph. The applicants will also have to submit proof of age, address and identity for an Aadhar number.
The Guwahati Administration Department (GAD) secretary, Ranjan Chakraborty, said that the state has already begun identifying places to set up the centres and would select an enrolment agency through tendering.
“We will issue the online tender within this month (November) and hope to select the enrolment agency by next month. We hope to complete the exercise by November next year,” Chakraborty said.
“The centres’ concentration, unlike the NRC Seva Kendras, will be based on the concentration of the population in that particular area. If a small area has higher density of population, then we will set up more than one centre there, while those areas having lesser population will have one or two. This way, the burden of enrolment will be equally distributed throughout the centres,” an official said.
There are 2,500 NRC Seva Kendras of which, 78 are in Kamrup (Metro).
Another official added that all the commercial banks in the state have also been authorised to act as service providers to complete the enrolment process and then issue Aadhar cards to their account holders.
Assam to begin Aadhar process from next month
Assam, which is lagging behind in collection of biometric data for Aadhar card, will start the process from December 1.
Assam and Jammu & Kashmir are the only two states in the country where the Aadhar enrolment process has not started yet.
The delay in Assam was on account of the ongoing update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The state government had earlier thought of linking the Aadhar card with the NRC to prevent illegal migrants from acquiring the Aadhar.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the Aadhar card enrolment should be completed at the earliest as students from Assam are facing difficulties in getting admission in institutes in those states where Aadhar is mandatory.
In 2004, the enrolment process was carried out in three districts - Golaghat, Nagaon and Sonitpur - as a pilot project and an office was also set up in Guwahati. A total of 24,05,286 persons (7.1%) of the total 3,40,68,394 population were enrolled but further enrolment was halted.
Assam falls at the bottom of the chart with regard to Aadhar in the Northeast. Meghalaya, with 14.3% completion lies immediately above Assam while, Tripura tops the list with 89.2% enrolment.
Confusion over NRC and Aadhaar
The General Administration Department (GAD) is hoping that the final list of NRC would be completed before the process for the Aadhar Card is launched.
According to an official, “For the time being, the Aadhar update and the NRC will run parallely. It is expected that the draft NRC list will be completed by December 31. The Aadhar enrolment will not be completed before November 2018. By that time, we hope that the NRC will be completed.”
The department however, has no contingency plan if the NRC update is delayed. The Supreme Court had, in July this year, set December 31 as the final deadline for releasing the draft NRC list.
Civil society organisations have already raised their opposition to the issue of Aadhar card. “The Aadhar enrolment seems like a plan to give the illegal migrants citizenship in Assam. Even if we are to believe that the Aadhar enrolment data will be cross-checked with the NRC list, the extra work will still be a wastage of money and manpower,” Lurinjyoti Gogoi, general secretary of All Assam Students’ Union said.
The same opinion was expressed by Aminul Islam, general secretary of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) who was of the view that the government’s decision to issue Aadhar card was only a source of more confusion.
Harassment for students
People of Assam staying in other parts of the country have to face harassment regularly for not having Aadhar card.
“I had thought that I will not get admission despite having the cut-off marks,” 20-year-old Bibhas Gogoi said recalling the harassment he went through for not having an Aadhar Card while trying to secure admission in a college under Delhi University last year.
“I had to convince the officials in the college for quite some time and then had to show published articles of citizens of Assam being exempted from having to enter their Aadhar details to convince them,” Gogoi, who hails from the city’s Kalapahar area, said.
Gogoi is not alone among the large number of residents from the state facing a problem without the Aadhar. Last year, after much confusion and protests by the students, the Central Board of Secondary Education had exempted the students from Assam, Meghalaya and Jammu & Kashmir from providing Aadhar details during the all-India engineering entrance exam – Joint Entrance Examination (JEE).
“It is not only just in education. We have to face this problem at every step. We cannot apply for LPG cards, bank accounts and every other service for which identity cards are required. Because our voter ID card has our permanent address in Assam, often those weren’t accepted as valid documents,” Kongkon Saha, who works in a private firm in Bangalore, said.
Saha’s refrain found an echo with Dhruba Borgohain who is a student studying at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. He said, “Now, with the enrolment starting again, we will have to travel all the way back to Assam to get enrolled. To get the card would be a relief of course, but, it would have been convenient if the update could have been done in the city where I was residing.”
• Collection of biometric data for Aadhar Card will start from December 1
• Assam and Jammu & Kashmir are the only two states where the Aadhar enrolment process has not started yet
• 270 out of 8,500 enrolment centres will be set up in Guwahati
• 7.1% enrolment recorded in a pilot project in 2004
• Government optimistic of NRC being completed before Aadhar
• Plans to link Aadhar with NRC