ARC moots unique I-card system to thwart influx

NEW DELHI, Jan 28 : Yet another official agency has raised alarm over the threat posed by illegal influx, with Administrative Reform Commission (ARC), in its latest report, warning that illegal immigration into the country was posing a serious threat to national security, strongly recommending a unique identity card for citizens.

“One way of dealing with the issue of illegal immigration, is by means of a citizen’s identity number or card,” the second ARC report on promoting e-governance said.The ARC’s observation is significant because it comes from a Commission headed by none other AICC general secretary, in-charge for Assam, M Veerappa Moily. The 186-page report is also a confirmation that a large number of illegal Bangladeshi migrants continue to cross over to India. The report released on Saturday also referred to the pilot project for a ‘Multi-purpose National Identity Card (MNIC)’ in select areas of 13 districts in 12 States and one Union Territory.

Highly sensitive Karimganj district in Assam and West Tripura district is among the areas where the pilot project is under implementation.“Thus this project has focused on select border areas of the country with illegal immigration in mind,” the report said.“One aim of the project is “to act as a deterrent for future illegal immigration”, the ARC report further added.It said the MNIC project was completed in March last and over 12 lakh identity cards have been issued to persons above 18 years. The MNIC proposed to create a credible individual identification system, allow speedy and efficient transactions between the individual and the service provider – both government and non-government, create a user-friendly interface between the citizens and the government and facilitate improvement in the services to the peopleThe ARC, on the other hand, has suggested creation of a separate unique identity card system would only be useful if it was exhaustive, accurate and tamper-proof. “To start the process immediately, it may be desirable to give unique IDs prospectively for all future births that take place in the country. As the system stabilises, this could then be extended to all citizens in a phased manner,” the report addedThe ‘unique identity’ was expected to reduce significantly identity-related fraud and allow for better targeting of government schemes.As reported earlier, Government of India has already cleared a proposal to create a new body to issue all Indian citizens, UID- based smart cards with their personal details embedded in them. Even infants will have tag numbers, and will get smart cards in due course.The permanent identifiers will be place of birth, date of birth and name of parents. The headquarters for the mammoth project will be in Delhi with offices in all States and Union Territories.An empowered group of ministers, headed by External affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee approved the setting up of the authority in November last year. Last week, Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar reportedly asked the Planning Commission to expedite the process of setting up the national UID authority through a gazette notification in the light of India’s new security concerns.The vote-on-account next month is likely to have a mention of the proposed expenditure on this project, sources said.The ARC report said the need for such a card has been considered necessary “not only for security reasons, but also for delivery of services to citizens and taking the development programmes to the target population”.In the absence of a database, identification of target population is done every time a new scheme is implemented. “Even where database do exist, its reliability remains doubtful as there is no system of continuous corroboration with the field situation and regular updates,” the report said.Meanwhile, the ARC report came at a time, when the Assam Government and the Centre are in the process of finalising the modalities for updating the National Register of Indian Citizens, a key requirement for detection and deportation of illegal migrants. The Assam Government has already submitted the draft modalities to the Centre for clearance and several rounds of negotiations have been held to finalise it before Government of India notifies it. sourcE: assam tribune