The NPR was started in 2010 by the UPA government led by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, ahead of Census 2011, and the preparation for the pilot project began two years ago when Shivraj Patil (May 22, 2004 to November 30, 2008) and P. Chidambaram (November 30, 2008 to July 31, 2012) were home minister.
The Home Ministry's 2008-2009 report clearly mentioned that "after the NPR is so made ready, it would be possible to create NRIC independently as a subset of NPR".
In the 13.32, 13.33 and 13.34 slugs at page number 149 of the then report, the Home Ministry mentioned that the experience of the pilot project has shown that "determination of citizenship is an involved and complicated matter and that creation of NPR with a single reference date would be more feasible in the first instance".
Accordingly, the report said, there is a proposal for creation of NPR by collecting information on specified items of each resident, along with the population enumeration at the time of the next decennial census in 2011.
"The filled up NPR schedules will be handed over to the Unique Identification (UID) Authorities, being created under the Planning Commission, who will computerise the database and add photographs and finger biometrics of each individual to make the identity database complete," the annual report said.
"After the NPR is so made ready, it would be possible to create a National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) independently as a subset of NPR."
The Planning Commission has made an allocation of Rs 300 crore for this project in the 11th Five Year Plan, it said.
As per the report, there is a parallel scheme of UID, currently being implemented by the Department of Information Technology (DIT) at the instance of the Planning Commission, to create a database of residents in the country in the interregnum.
"This database will be created using the data in electoral rolls of Election Commission, India (ECI), PDS and BPL for better targeting of the beneficiaries under various government schemes/programmes.
"After the NPR is created, it will engulf the UID database, being far more comprehensive and will become the mother database for identity purposes."
Following the terrorist attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008, the report said, the government has decided that the NPR would be created ahead of 2011 Census in the coastal areas for nine Maritime States and four Union territories and that identity cards would be issued to all the "usual" residents of these coastal areas including the fishermen.
"This would be implemented in 2009-10. In Andaman & Nicobar Islands, all the towns and villages will be covered for data collection in the First Phase while in respect of the other coastal states/Union Territories 3,500 coastal villages will be covered."
The data collection in the remaining coastal towns/ cities is planned to be undertaken along with 2011 Census, the report further mentioned.
But, the NPR was criticised by the Opposition when the Union cabinet on Tuesday approved it with no requirements on the people to submit any documents to prove their identity, calling it "new avatar which invades the right to privacy".
The Modi government, however, has clarified that "there is no link between NPR and NRC".
Citing earlier statements of the Centre, the parties said the NPR is the first step before making the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The CPI (M) urged the Chief Ministers who have announced their opposition to the NRC to stop the NPR exercise in their states.
"The NPR exercise will require people to declare the date and place of birth of parents along with furnishing data on 21 additional points. Most of the data being collected now was not collected in the last NPR exercise in 2010," the CPI(M) Polit Bureau said in a statement.
Congress spokesperson Ajay Maken attributed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reamrk that there was no discussion on the NRC and the Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said there is no link between NPR and NRC.
"But, look at 2018-19 Annual Report of the Union Home Ministry; Page 262: 'NPR is the first step towards creation of NRIC.' Shame... PM shouldn't lie," tweeted Maken.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@.in)
( With inputs from IANS )