Irate public block traffic protesting delay in recording details

The official arrangements made for capturing biometric details for the National Population Register (NPR) by the Census Directorate in Vellore are too inadequate to meet the rush for NPR registration.

A visit to the Panchayat Union Middle School in Thorapadi here on Sunday where NPR registration of residents in wards 49 and 50 of Vellore Corporation have commenced revealed the presence of a chaotic situation in the only hall where the work was on.

All the four enrolment operators equipped with laptops and cameras were capturing the biometric details in the same cramped classroom, with family members waiting in separate queues. The operators have to capture biometric details (face, 10 fingerprints and two irises) of residents for registration of name and other details, and subsequently for the issue of Resident Identity Cards.

In view of the terrible sweat on the faces and hands of the people on account of the sweltering heat and frequent power cuts, it took 10 to 15 minutes for an operator to achieve the quality required in capturing the fingerprints as he had to wipe the sweat in their fingers to get good quality fingerprints.

The inordinate delay in capturing the biometric details made the waiting people impatient. On Sunday, it resulted in a situation where the public refused to allow the enrolment operators to leave their seats to have lunch even at 3.30 p.m. When the operators went to have lunch, the public went out of the school and blocked the road, forcing the police to rush to the spot and pacify the agitated crowd.

They went to the extent of preventing the enrolment operators from entering the school to resume the exercise. On Saturday too, there was a heavy rush at the school for NPR enrolment. One of the enrolment operators at the school said that with a meagre wage of Rs. 2.50 per head, the operators were prepared to undertake the exercise successfully provided the public cooperate. He complained of lack of cooperation from the school authorities in allotting separate halls for the physically challenged.

When the school authorities pleaded inability to meet the demand owing to lack of electricity connection in other halls, the enrolment operators purchased the wires with their own funds, but even then the school authorities did not cooperate.

While there was greater awareness on the part of the public in enrolling themselves for NPR registration, the official response was found wanting. Enquiries revealed that the exercise was comparatively peaceful and smooth in rural areas where the local body councillors and panchayat presidents were at the spot appealing to the public to get enrolled. They also sorted out the problems encountered by the operators through personal supervision. But such an involvement was lacking among the Corporation councillors concerned in the Thorapadi school. The sorry state of affairs was that there was no official from the Revenue Department to supervise the work and ensure the smooth conduct of the exercise. Both the public and the operators sought the intervention of district administration to make fool-proof arrangements.