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Parliamentary panel asks govt to have national consensus on NPR and Census

New Delhi: A parliamentary panel has observed that there is a lot of dissatisfaction and fear among people on the upcoming National Population Register (NPR) and census and asked the government to have a national consensus on the two exercises to be carried out from next month so that there is absolute clarity and no apprehension in anyone's mind.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, also said it would like the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to explore the feasibility of using the Aadhaar metadata for the Census and updating the NPR in 2020-21.

"The committee recommends that all the states and Union territories should be fully convinced on various issues pertaining to the NPR, which commences in April, to have a national consensus so that there is absolute clarity and no apprehension among people across the country, which will help in conducting these exercises in a smooth manner," the panel said in its report submitted to the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

The house-listing phase of the 2021 census and the exercise to update the NPR will be carried out from April 1 to September 30.

The committee observed that there was a lot of dissatisfaction and fear among people regarding the upcoming NPR and census.

"The committee also feels that these apprehensions should have been duly ventilated in the media. The MHA must consider some way out so that the census goes smoothly. Otherwise, there is quite a chance of the entire process being stymied in many states," the report said.

During its deliberations with MHA officials, the committee sought to know about the new parameters or new questions that have been put in the upcoming NPR and whether the states have been consulted or not and whether any effort has been made to build a national consensus as regards the changed parameters.

The ministry submitted that during the process to update the NPR 2020, it was proposed to collect data on some additional aspects such as place of last residence, mother tongue, Aadhaar number (voluntary), mobile number, passport number (for an Indian Passport holder), voter identity card number, driving license number, date and place of birth of father and mother.

Besides, the data on date and place of birth of parents was collected in the NPR 2010 as well for all parents who were enumerated within the household, the ministry said, adding that for the parents living elsewhere or expired at the time of enumeration, only the names were collected.

To facilitate back-end data processing and making the data items of date and place of birth complete for all households, the details of parents are being collected in a more comprehensive manner in NPR 2020, the ministry said.

The panel noted the submission of the MHA on the upcoming census and NPR and said it was not quite convinced with its reply that Aadhaar was an individual data and in order to create a family database, the NPR exercise was undertaken.

The committee is of the opinion that Aadhaar is not just an individual's data but it is also tied up with ration card, pan card etc.

"The Aadhaar metadata also includes the entire family's surname, address etc. Therefore, the committee fails to understand as to why this should

be treated as individual data only," it said.

The panel observed that a huge amount was already spent on data collection under Aadhaar. But in the Budget Estimate 2020-21, an amount of Rs 4,568 crore was allocated for the Registrar General of India (RGI) for census 2021.

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