Enrolment for Aadhaar has begun once again in Assam after being abruptly stalled on two occasions earlier following concerns that illegal migrants would avail the facility to claim citizenship.
A total of 1,241 Aadhaar enrollment centres has been set up in the state with the deputy commissioners designated as the enrolment authorities in every district. A government employee will also verify all the documents on proof of identity, birth and address at every centre across the state.
An official said that there was no deadline for the enrolment and issue of the card but banks have been told to allocate more manpower for “speedy implementation” of the scheme. He added that a rough estimate would be one year to cover the 3.16 crore residents in the state.
Given the remoteness of some villages along the inter-state borders and the international boundaries (Assam shares its borders with Bangladesh and Bhutan), the government has also decided on a series of campaigns for publicity and awareness which will be carried out by the general administration department (GAD) of the government with the help of UIDAI.
In Assam, Aadhaar had fuelled a controversy with civil society groups and political parties raising concerns that its benefits would be reaped by foreign nationals. They demanded that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) must first publish the complete list of citizens before Aadhaar cards are issued. In March 2017, the state government had also informed the Supreme Court of its inability to stick to the 31 March deadline for linking Aadhaar with other core services.
But following a series of meetings between the Assam government and the Ministry of Home Affairs in the past few months, it was decided to issue Aadhaar in the state since it is not linked to citizenship. Some core services would be linked to the card and a large chunk of residents including the declared and suspected foreign nationals would avail the facility.
The government feels that gathering biometric details could help track the movement of illegal migrants in the country who have been settling in different states across the country. Last year, the government had informed Parliament that around 2 crore of illegal Bangladeshi migrants were living in the country.
Besides Assam, opposition to Aadhaar had also surfaced in Nagaland and Meghalaya among the northeastern states which explain the low enrollment rates in the twin hill states. In Assam, only about 9 percent of the total population has availed Aadhaar in the districts of Sonitpur, Nagaon and Golaghat. The project was started last year by the government and the home department asked to monitor the exercise. More than a thousand locations were identified as Aadhaar Kendras for the enrollment. Some banks had also begun the process for their customers but the process was again stalled following objections raised by the civil society groups.
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Updated Date: Oct 10, 2018 21:44:13 IST