GUWAHATI, July 18 - As less than 20 per cent of the people of Assam have submitted their application forms for inclusion of their names in the updated National Register of Citizens (NRC), it is unlikely that all citizens of the State will be able to submit their application forms before July 31. Now it remains to be seen whether the Supreme Court, which is monitoring the process of updating the NRC, will allow extension of the time-frame for submission of application forms.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that the State has around 65 lakh households, but till date, only 12 lakh households have submitted application forms for inclusion of names in the updated NRC. The enthusiasm of people in some districts has been very encouraging, but it is not so in town areas. Around 40 per cent of people of Barpeta district have submitted their application forms so far, while the response of people in Dhubri district is also positive. But the process picked up momentum only recently in the towns and it has not been very encouraging so far in Guwahati.
Sources said that the government, on its own, cannot extend the time limit for submission of application forms, as the Supreme Court is monitoring the process. However, a detailed report on the progress has been submitted to the Supreme Court and a decision may be announced in the next hearing of the case, scheduled next week.
Sources said that several factors can be attributed to the slow progress. The first reason is that the distribution of application forms got delayed as the forms had to be cleared by the Registrar General of India (RGI). In the initial stages of the process, the response of the people was also lukewarm, particularly in town areas, and not many people approached the NRC Sewa Kendras to obtain their legacy data. Each Sewa Kendra can handle around 80 application forms in a day. In the initial stages, very few people came to the centres to submit their application forms and now the centres are finding it difficult to handle the increasing flow of people. Interestingly, some people are approaching the centres seeking legacy data and the personnel manning the centres are finding it difficult to cope with the rush.
Sources also said that though advertisements had been issued to popularise online submission of application forms, the process was almost stalled for a few days as the system crashed due to heavy pressure. One of the lines of the BSNL went down and the remaining lines could not cope with the pressure. However, the system has now been restored, and yesterday, more than 5,000 people managed to submit application forms online.
Floods in parts of the State and frequent bandhs have also slowed down the process in some parts of the State.
Meanwhile, after the completion of the process of submission of forms, the second phase of the NRC updating process, that is, house-to-house verification, will start. It will take at least three months to complete the process, sources added.