The Chennai Corporation has started work on the second phase of its biggest logistical project in its 324-year history. The civic body has started holding camps to record photographs, fingerprints and iris scans of local residents. Once this data has been collected, it will be used to issue National Population Registry ID cards (NPR ID) to every Chennai resident above the age of five. Officials say that the drive to collect this data has not had a healthy response in its first phase, but is expected to catch on soon.
At present, the Corporation is conducting a drive to collect the biometric information at seven locations in Zone IX (Teynampet). The drive, which began on November 27, will end on December 16. Corporation staff will allot a day for residents of a few streets, who will have to go to the centres with application forms or other relevant information to get their biometric data recorded.
The data collection centres have been set up at seven schools spread out across Zone IX, and would be open from 8am to 7pm. But with the process in its beginning stages, officials say they are looking to streamline the system and alter the timing to best suit the needs of local residents.
“The same two-member team that collected information from your household for the Socio Economic and Caste Census will come to your house to give you the application form and inform you about the date allotted to collect your biometric information. You can go to the centre, which will not be too far from your house, and get this done,” says Corporation’s Additional Commissioner (Revenue & Finance) Vijayaraj Kumar. “Don’t worry if you miss your date, this will be a continuous process, and you can get it done. But we suggest you get it done as soon as possible,” he adds.
The process has gotten off to a slow start, says Vijayaraj Kumar. He attributes this to the fewer number of machines the Corporation currently has to carry out data collection, as well as a general lack of knowledge among the people that the process is underway. He also underlines the fact that the NPR ID is different from the Aadhar, or UID card.
“We are continuously monitoring various patterns, like the number of people who come to the centres, what time they come in and other factors. We will use this to make changes to our schedules as and where necessary. We are even considering extending our hours in the morning or night to make it convenient for office-goers to come and record their data,” said Vijayaraj Kumar.
At present, the Corporation has been given 50 machines by the Commissionerate of Census Operations. As the project’s implementation expands, up to 1000 machines can be expected to be in operation across the city. The process for each individual now takes around 15 minutes, but officials expect this time to halve with practice as the project expands.
The Chennai Corporation is the implementing authority for the project, with Corporation Commissioner D Karthikeyan nominated as the District Registrar for the National Population Registry. Zonal Officers of all Corporation’s zones have been named Deputy Registrars, who will address concerns and doubts in their areas.
The Assistant Executive Engineers of each ward have also been tasked with the supervision of door-to-door form distribution and information dissemination.
For now, the Corporation is in the process of identifying locations for camps in the other zones. They are likely to be either a Corporation-run school or a Corporation office in your ward.