GS Paper 2
Syllabus: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
Direction: The article highlights the NRC exercise in Assam and the issues raised in a recent CAG report. The article also covers the exercise of delimitation of constituencies that recently began in Assam.
Context: The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) have flagged serious concerns in a compliance report of ‘logistical arrangements for National Register of Citizens (NRC) update project in Assam’ tabled in the Assam Assembly recently.
What is the NRC exercise?
- It contains demographic information on all legal Indian citizens, allowing illegal immigrants to be recognised and deported.
- It is mandated under a 2003 amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955, which specifies the criteria under which a person obtains Indian citizenship.
- Until now, such a database has only been maintained for Assam. However, India’s Home Minister recently stated that the register would be expanded to include the entire country.
- An NRC was first created in 1951 in Assam to identify those born in India and migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
- In 2013 (on a petition urging the removal of illegal immigrants’ names from voter lists), the Supreme Court issued directions to the Centre and State to initiate an exercise to update the 1951 register.
- The final list (2019) included those who could establish their Indian citizenship by being residents or descendants of people living in Assam before March 25, 1971 – the cut-off date for deportation of foreigners as per the Assam Accord of August 1985.
- As many as 06 lakh people out of 3.3 crore applicants were excluded due to a lack of adequate documents to prove their citizenship.
- The final list was rejected by some stakeholders as faulty, and the process is still on hold because the Registrar General of India (RGI) is yet to notify the final list.
Findings in the CAG report:
- Haphazard development of software for the exercise, making it prone to data tampering.
- Undue profits worth crores amassed by the system integrator (SI) by violating the Minimum Wages Act.
Concerns raised by the CAG:
- The process to update the NRC has seen a five-fold increase in the cost (Rs 1,600 crore) due to time overruns and updates in the software.
- Irregularities in the utilisation of funds including excess and inadmissible payment to vendors.
Recommendations of the CAG:
- Penal measures against Wipro Limited for violating the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act and for paying data operators less than minimum wages.
- Action against the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR) for excess, irregular and inadmissible payments.
- Fixing accountability of the SCNR as the principal employer for not ensuring compliance with the Minimum Wage Act.
Insta Links: NRC