Lakhs Cut Off From Welfare Schemes, Assam Says Wrote To Centre Twice

Lakhs Cut Off From Welfare Schemes, Assam Says Wrote To Centre Twice

Over 27 lakh NRC applicants in the state had submitted their biometrics during the claims


With Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) stuck in limbo for close to three years, most of the 19 lakh people whose names were not included in the final draft published in August 2019, remain cut off from various welfare schemes, the state government acknowledged on Tuesday, saying it has raised the issue with the centre on at least two occasions.

The Assam government is pursuing with the centre the issue of non-issuance of Aadhaar cards to “many eligible people” whose biometric details were locked during the process of updating the NRC as the document is necessary for availing benefits of welfare schemes, the assembly was informed on Tuesday.

Over 27 lakh NRC applicants in the state had submitted their biometrics during the claims and objections phase of updating the NRC.

Out of them, names of 19 lakh applicants did not figure in the final draft due to problems in documents which they submitted to prove their citizenship, though the biometric data of all the 27 lakh people remains blocked as per a directive from the Supreme Court in November 2018. The NRC was updated under the direct monitoring of the Supreme Court.

The final draft of NRC in Assam was published on August 31, 2019, though it is yet to be notified by the Registrar General of India (RGI).

Before the publication of the final draft, biometrics were collected in the claims and objection stage.

Sharing the concerns of the opposition parties, General Administration Department Minister Ranjeet Kumar Dass informed the house that the state government is aware that many eligible people are facing problems in availing benefits of welfare schemes due to the absence of Aadhaar cards which are mandatory to be linked to their bank accounts for receiving the benefits.

Aadhaar cards are not considered proof of citizenship and can be given to any foreigner or NRI who has lived in India for more than 182 days.

Mr Dass said that the state government has written at least twice to the Union Home Minister in 2020 and 2021, requesting the Centre to allow the authority to access the biometric details of at least those people whose names had figured in the final draft of the NRC.

“Chief Minister (Himanta Biswa Sarma) himself recently raised the issue in the state Cabinet meeting and a sub-committee has been formed to look into the problem and the way forward with different organisations,” Mr Dass said.

The matter was raised by All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) legislator Aminul Islam, who maintained that though the state government has been claiming of being aware of the issue, no fruitful step has been taken to resolve the problem.

“People are being deprived of their rightful benefits. Earlier also the government said steps are being taken but we have not seen any result,” Mr Islam said.

Congress MLA Jakir Hussain Sikdar demanded a definite timeframe for resolving the problem, while ruling BJP legislator Biswajit Phukan also urged the government to ensure that at least those people whose names were included in the final draft NRC are not deprived of the benefits.

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