HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: After almost a year of wrangling with the Ministry of Law and Justice over approval of the draft bill of National Identity (NID) Card, the National Identity Management Centre (NIDMC) has finally sent a proposal to the Cabinet for the NID Act.
The multimillion-dollar NID project aims to provide multipurpose biometric machine readable cards to all citizens in place of handwritten citizenship cards.
According to a joint secretary at the Office of Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers, the government has to introduce an NID Act through an ordinance in the absence of the Parliament.
NIDMC is confident that governments will bring an ordinance on NID Card as the project is on the government’s priority list.
Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai himself had approved the NID draft bill on behalf of Minister for Law and Justice to further the process.
According to NIDMC Executive Director Narendra Dahal, all other preparations for the issuance of NID cards are on the right track.
The Canadian smart card consultant, hired with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank, has already submitted a detailed project report for the identity card project.
The report recommends polycarbonated cards for the NID and suggests improving the quality of finger prints that the Election Commission has collected, noting that the prints are of low quality and do not meet the standard for biometric ID cards. An NID card is estimated to cost six to eight dollars.
“After the detailed project report, the consultant is preparing bid documents for the project,” Dahal said.
He anticipated that this process will take a long time to complete.
Former Minister for Law and Justice Brijesh Kumar Gupta’s objection to the NID draft bill had also delayed the project.
Gupta had repeatedly rejected the idea of the NID bill saying that a political consensus is a must to take the bill forward.
The government had planned to issue 400,000 NID cards on the first lot within this fiscal.
However, NIDMC plans to issue NID cards as part of a pilot project.
Two years ago, the Cabinet had agreed to issue biometric machine readable cards to all citizens in a bid to replace handwritten citizenship certificates.
However, Madhes-based regional parties have been objecting to the idea of NID card, demanding that issues of citizenship in the Tarai be sorted out first.