KOLKATA: In a direct confrontation with the Centre over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Bengal government on Monday “stayed” preparations for the mandatory National Population Register (NPR).
“As of now, we have stalled all preparations on our part,” said a senior state government official. “All activities regarding preparation and update of the NPR are stayed in the state.”
An order that no activity regarding NPR can be undertaken without prior clearance from the state government has already been issued from the secretariat to all district magistrates and commissioners of Kolkata and Howrah Municipal Corporation, sources said.
The NPR is a register of Indian residents, prepared at the village, sub-district, district and national levels. Registering names under NPR is mandatory for citizens who have lived in an area for six months and intend to stay there for the next six months (at least).
NPR data was collected in 2010, while the house-listing phase of the Census
The NPR “stay” does not, in any way, make the Census exercise uncertain, clarified senior state officials. “The NPR exercise was scheduled to be conducted in 2020. The Census exercise is scheduled to roll out in 2021. These are two separate exercises,” said a senior official.
Central officials, however, questioned the validity of the Bengal government’s decision. “Both Census and NPR exercises are mandatory and the states do not have any leeway to interfere with their schedules. According to a notification already issued by the Registrar General of India, the NPR exercise — which is undertaken in accordance with provisions of the Citizenship Act — will be conducted, along with the house-listing phase of Census 2021, from April to September 2020 in all states and Union Territories except Assam. The same enumerator will capture data for both Census and NPR,” said an official source at the Centre.
The Census of India decided to update NPR along with the house-listing phase of Census 2021. The Bengal government, earlier this month, had directed districts to make provision for enough enumerators and supervisors for carrying out field duty for the 2021 Census and the update of NPR-2020.
“The enumerators are normally selected from primary school teachers, clerks and other similar-ranking officials. The list of enumerators and supervisors was scheduled to be ready by the year-end,” said a state government official.