Rush for Aadhaar Card in Nagaland

With the government notifying that Aadhaar Card has been made mandatory for disbursement of all scholarships with effect from this financial year (2016-2017), students (amongst others) have been crowding the Directorate of Census Operations, Kohima to enrol themselves since May this year.

The rush began in June, compelling even the staff of the Census Operations to start working sometimes as early as 5:30 am till 8:30 pm. There are reportedly cases of people queuing up as early as 3:00 am at the office counter, and the past couple of months have seen the registration of at least 100 people per day.

145 Permanent Enrolment Centres (PECs) were set up in all the districts last January till March this year, to enable people to enrol themselves. However, the entire year’s progress indicated that only 2 person’s biometrics was captured per laptop, whereas the expected minimum registration was 25 persons per laptop during that period.

Speaking to The Morung Express, Assistant Director of Census Operations, Imkong said, “all of a sudden, this scholarship thing came up as well as LPG subsidy, MGNREGA, Ration Card, etc and people started rushing.” He informed that the centres were closed from April but they requested the private companies to set up 3 camps – one in Kohima, one in Chumukedima and the other in Dimapur to help the public from the later part of May. “Otherwise, nowhere else, it is functioning now”, he informed.

The Assistant Director further informed that the enrolment exercise for Aadhaar began in 2011. During the initial stages, he said, enough emphasis was given on its uses and benefits while the departmental staff also went to the villages twice.

“Only when people started realizing the importance of Aadhaar card, they started rushing,” he pointed out. He also went on to state that “when we went to the villages, nobody came forward. Our operators were given the instruction to be in the villages for 3 days whether there are people or not. There was even a fully equipped Mobile Bus that went from district to district asking people to come.”

Since the opening of the centre for enrolment at the Census Office since May, M. Peseyie, Assistant Director said that the staff are working beyond their regular office hours.

KH Athisii Chachei, Compiler said there are also cases where applicants have been rejected. He informed that some people, whose biometrics were captured during 2011-12, have lost their acknowledgement slips, requiring the office to check in their systems again and check their status. He also said that there are duplicate cases wherein two biometrics have been taken, adding to the cumbersome process of generating the Aadhaar card.

“Once it’s done and generated, we are not supposed to do it again”, he said, while pointing out that most error cases involved “data process errors.” He further stated that the rejection list was beyond their control.

At this juncture, even if the students enrol themselves for the Aadhaar Card with extended deadlines for scholarships, the officials informed it is unlikely their cards would be generated on time.

According to official records, only about 69% of the Naga population (excluding the age-group of 0-5 years) have enrolled for Aadhaar, whereas many other states in India have crossed 90%.

Given the current situation, the department has held a series of meetings with the State Government and it is hopeful that new camps would be set up to meet the increasing number of people rushing to get their Aadhaar Cards.

Mandatory or
voluntary?
Meanwhile, in pursuance of the Supreme Court Order stating that Aadhaar Card is purely voluntary, the “mandatory” notification has created a lot of confusion among the citizens.

The Supreme Court order, dated August 11, 2015 states that “production of an Aadhaar card will not be a condition for obtaining any benefits otherwise due to a citizen.”

Subsequently on October 15, while allowing government to include more schemes in which benefits can be paid using Aadhaar, the apex court reiterated that the use of Aadhaar will be purely voluntary; no one will be denied any service for the lack of an Aadhaar card; and Aadhaar can only be used (on a voluntary basis) for dispersal of benefits and subsidies under PDS, LPG, MNREGA, PM Jan Dhan Yojna, National Social Assistance Program, and Employees’ Provident Fund Organization.

The centre has linked certain subsidies including LPG to Aadhaar. The University Grants Commission has also made it “mandatory” for students to provide biometric data before they can avail of “government subsidies, scholarships and fellowships.”