Tribune News Service /New Delhi
As many as 150mn Indians living in 111 strategic and important border districts may finally get “identity cards” to prove their nationality and improve security along the country’s border. Currently, many of them face harassment on account of not having proof of identity.
The move is part of the planned restructuring of the Border Area Development Programme (BADP), senior government officials said on condition of anonymity.
The Centre spends about Rs90bn every year on border districts. BADP aims to meet the “special development needs of the people living in remote and inaccessible areas situated near the international border,” a home ministry official who did not want to be named.
Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal were the biggest beneficiaries of this programme, receiving about Rs720mn, Rs810mn and Rs850mn respectively in 2017-18.
The Union Cabinet gave its nod to the restructuring of the BADP programme in the last week of December, one of the government officials said.
The ministry of home affairs has written to Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India (RGI) to examine the “feasibility of issuing identity cards to the Indian citizens living in the border districts,” a second government official said.
Apart from issuing identity cards, the revamped BADP programme will focus on creating infrastructure in the strategically located and important border districts.
In 2017, the Union home ministry reviewed the BADP programme. The home minister met representatives from 17 states that have border districts.
“The revamp is aimed at ensuring that people are not forced to leave these areas for want of better infrastructure. The idea is to make strategic and important villages along the border, model villages, that have every possible infrastructure,” the third senior official said.
“It is a much-needed thing and a need of the hour. From the security point of view, this an extremely significant decision. Better infrastructure will help retain our people and importantly, Indians will have proof of their identity,” K M Singh, former additional director of the Intelligence Bureau and a senior member of the Vivekananda International Foundation said.
The move to issue the identity cards to Indians who live in border districts was also recommended by the Kargil Review Committee.
An estimated 140-150mn Indians inhabiting the 111 border districts of the country, may now get identity cards, the first official said.
The cards will be issued using the database of the National Population Register (NPR), which records the identities of all Indian residents. The data is maintained by RGI.
NPR uses the “family” as the basic enumeration unit and was compiled during the 2010-2011 census. It was updated in 2016. NPR has biometrics of individuals to enable the issuance of identity cards to citizens. The government plans to update the data, based on data currently being collected for the 2021 census and issue the cards, the second official said.
The data verification will be done as per processes outlined in Citizenship Rules, 2003 to create a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) of border districts.
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