GUWAHATI, Oct 25 - Though the exact date for completion of the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) of 1951 is yet to be finalized, it is estimated that the draft of the nationality document will be out by the end of March, 2017. Meanwhile, the estimated cost of completion of the mega project has also gone up to at least Rs 900 crore.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that in the last few months, financial hardship created problems in smooth conduct of the work and even the salaries of the employees and the data entry operators could not be paid on time. The office of the NRC coordinator has appointed around 1200 persons directly, while, more than 8500 persons have been appointed through outsourcing agencies. The officers concerned also failed to pay the vendors due to the delay on the part of the Government of India is releasing funds. However, the situation has eased out a bit after the release of Rs 50 crore by the Government last month.
Giving reasons for the fund crunch, sources said that as such a mega job was not carried out in the past and no one had any idea of the requirements. �No one was sure of the amount of manpower required for carrying out such a job. Moreover, no one knew about the type of software that would be required for carrying out a foolproof job,� sources added. That is why, initially, the total cost of the project was estimated to be around Rs 288 crore. However, only when the project started, the magnitude of the volume of work came to light and it was found that the initial estimates were way off the mark, sources said.
Sources revealed that already more than Rs 300 crore has been spent on the project and a substantial amount is still to be paid to the vendors for supply of different materials.
Lack of proper estimates made it difficult for the Government for making budget provisions for the work. Moreover, no one was quite sure as to when the project will be completed. Initially, the Supreme Court, which is closely monitoring the progress, used to give deadlines for completion of different phases of the process. But now the Court is also giving stress on quality of the work rather than the time frame.
Sources said that senior officials of the Registrar General of India last month had a meeting with the officers of the State Government and NRC coordinator�s office and it was decided that the total cost of the project would be around Rs 900 crore. After the preparation of the estimates, it will be easier for the Government of India to make budgetary provisions and it is expected that the flow of funds would become regular soon. During the meeting, it was also decided that efforts would be made to publish the draft NRC by March next year and the final one two months after that.