Why Did Assam NRC Data ‘Disappear’ from the NRC Website?
The saga of endless controversies surrounding the Assam NRC continues. And now, the Assam NRC data has disappeared from the cloud, which means it cannot be viewed online.
This is the complete NRC database, with names of people in Assam who have made it to the final NRC and people who haven’t.
Ideally, one should be able to check one’s NRC status by visiting the official website –nrcassam.nic.in. All that’s needed is the 21-digit application or ARN number.
At the time this report was filed, the data was not accessible to the reporter, who used his own ARN number.
This is what NRC state co-ordinator Hitesh Dev Sarma told news agency PTI:
“The cloud service for the huge set of data was provided by Wipro and their contract was till October 19 last year. However, this was not renewed by the earlier co-ordinator (Prateek Hajela). So, the data got offline from December 15 after it was suspended by Wipro. I assumed charge on December 24.”Hitesh Dev Sarma, NRC Co-ordinator
Ministry of Home Affairs said the Assam NRC data going offline is nothing but a technical issue in visibility on the cloud, which will be resolved soon.
The NRC was implemented by the Registrar General of India (RGI), which is under the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). The project engaged more than 50,000 government officials and 7,000 data entry operators. The whole cost of Rs 1,600 crore was borne by the ministry.
But, the Registrar General of India didn’t even have an office in Assam to monitor the NRC. The MHA didn’t have a system in place for the regular flow of funds for NRC.
It was dogged by late payment of salaries to the data entry operators. Salaries as low as Rs 5,050 were paid once in 3 months.
Knowing the track record of NRC, it’s not surprising that the cloud services were not renewed on time. The pending renewal fees is almost Rs 70 crore.
More than 19 lakh people have been left out of the final NRC and based on this lost data, these 19 lakh people were to be given rejection slips citing the reason for exclusion. This was essential for them to approach the Foreigners Tribunal to claim their Indian citizenship. No one has been given the rejection slip yet and now the whole process is in jeopardy.
There is some hope. The NRC authorities also keep a physical copy of the data. In August 2018, this reporter had verified his name in the list at an NRC Seva Kendra in Nagaon district.
For most applicants, many of them poor and uneducated, the Seva Kendra is the only point where they can check their names in the physical registers. One only hopes that in this digitisation fiasco, the hard copy of the sensitive NRC data has been kept safe.
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