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Neog questions delay, Mahanta blames Congress regime



GUWAHATI, Feb 1: The present BJP-led coalition government in Assam is putting maximum stress on error-free completion of the tiol Register of Citizens (NRC) for the State. The government has also made it clear that availability of funds for the NRC update exercise will not be a hindrance.

While answering questions on the issue raised by Congress MLA Ajanta Neog and AGP MLA Pabindra Deka in the Assembly on Wednesday, Water Resources and Science & Technology Minister Keshav Mahanta stated that NRC update is a topmost priority of the State government and it is making all efforts to make the update process error-free. In his answer to Neog’s question, Parliamentary Affairs and Industry & Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, who was also present in the House, said funding is not a problem for the NRC update process.

Raising the matter on the floor of the House, Neog asked whether the NRC update exercise will be delayed given the recent constitution of a committee under the chairmanship of the State Chief Secretary by the government. She expressed apprehension over the possibility of re-verification of 6.5 crore NRC documents by the recently constituted committee. She further expressed doubt about the delay, linking it with the government’s wait for passage of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill.

“People of the State submitted all necessary documents on time for early completion of NRC update exercise. The delay is creating doubt in the minds of citizens. The government should come clear on how much time will be needed to complete the exercise,” added Neog.

In his reply, Mahanta said, “NRC update is the topmost priority of our government. After taking charge, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal first visited the NRC office to take stock of the situation. The decision to update the NRC was taken on May 5, 2005 in a tripartite meeting held in New Delhi. It should have been completed before 2007, but the previous government didn’t start work on the same within 2007. When the NGO Assam Public Works filed a case on the issue in the Supreme Court, the NRC update was started from 2013 under the direction of the apex court. Later, the AASU got involved in it.”

“In October last, we strictly instructed all deputy commissioners in connection with the NRC update. Earlier, such strict instruction was not issued by Dispur,” Mahanta pointed out.

The State government is trying to publish the draft NRC by March this year, but the Supreme Court is stressing an error-free NRC, rather than the time factor. “Our government is fully committed to bring out a correct NRC,” he said.

When asked by Deka whether funding for the NRC update exercise is a problem or not, Patowary replied, “Funding is not a problem for the same. The Central government earlier released Rs 300 crore for the purpose, which has already been spent. Again Rs 100 crore has been released by the Centre to the State, and of it, Rs 75 crore has been released by the State government.”

On the controversy relating to non-payment of salaries to data entry operators engaged by a private company for the NRC update exercise, Patowary clarified: “These data entry operators have been engaged by Wipro. We have told the company to clear their due salaries. If they fail to do it, we will engage them for the same work and pay their salaries.”