Nepal | July 12, 2020

Editorial: Decks cleared for NIC

The Himalayan Times
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Chances of obtaining fake citizenship papers will lessen once the NIC comes into full operation within three years

One year after the government started distributing the National Identity Card (NIC), also known as a biometric card, the federal Parliament has just passed a bill to this effect.

The House of Representatives (HoR) endorsed the National Identity Card and Civil Registration Bill after the parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee unanimously endorsed it two weeks ago. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa had initiated the distribution of the NIC amidst a function in Phidim Municipality on November 19 last year.

Bhagawati Devi Bhandari, 101, of the municipality was the first person to receive the card. Home Minister Thapa was the second person to receive the card from centenarian Bhandari. But the government had to stop distributing the NIC after the main opposition, the Nepali Congress, questioned why the NIC card was being distributed when there was no law governing it. The National Identity Card Management Centre (NICMC) had collected details of a total of 52,754 people from Panchthar district and 3,500 government employees from Singha Durbar for the card. Earlier, the government had decided to distribute the NIC to 117,000 individuals in the first phase as a pilot project. According to the NICMC, they were supposed to distribute the NIC in 15 districts, including Jhapa and Sankhuwasabha of Province 1, Mahottari and Saptari of Province 2, Lalitpur, Chitwan and Rasuwa of Province 3, Tanahun and Syangja of Gandaki Province, and Kanchanpur and Achham of Sudurpaschim Province during the last fiscal.

The centre has set the target of distributing the NIC to every citizen within three years. The bill contains vital information of a citizen, including biometric data. The bill will be forwarded to the National Assembly for its approval, and it will become law following the president’s authentication. The NIC will have two sets of information for Nepali citizens – information on the card outside and information inside the card’s chip. The card will include the name of the citizen, his/her family name, date of birth, gender, nationality, ID card number, photo, issued date, name and signature of issuing authority, permanent address, type of citizenship card and citizenship card number. The information stored in the electronic chip installed inside the card will also include the same information besides biometric information, names of the parents and grandparents. Persons who have obtained Nepali citizenship paper and those who are eligible for the citizenship paper can apply for the NIC.

The bill has also proposed issuing different identity cards to foreigners and Non-Resident Nepalis (NRN). The government will issue general and biometric cards to foreigners working in diplomatic missions and tourists and NRNs. Addressing the HoR, the home minister said once the general and biometric card comes into full operation, the existing citizenship certificate could be phased out gradually. The government will have a centralised database of all the citizens. And chances of obtaining a fake citizenship paper will be lessened to a great extent. The NIC should also be allowed for voting purpose as it will reduce the management cost of the three tiers of elections. However, protecting the national database from its misuse is a big challenge.

Waste segregation

Kathmandu Metropolitan City’s (KMC) plan to have every household segregate refuse into biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste is welcome as it will cut down on the dross landing up at the landfill site. Nearly 516 metric tons of waste is generated in the metropolis daily, which is collected by both the KMC and private collectors, and disposed of at the landfill site that is already brimming with garbage and can take no more. Much of the household waste is biodegradable, which the KMC hopes to convert into compost.

Apart from organic and non-organic waste, the metropolis must also now focus on collecting harmful and chemical waste, such as syringes, paint and batteries. Until now, they have been finding their way to the landfill site, which contaminates the soil over time. However, disposing of such harmful waste requires modern equipment and technology, but the KMC should be able to afford them now. This is not the first time the KMC is attempting to segregate waste into different categories. Similar bids in the past could not be sustained for long because the KMC could not enforce its rules.

A version of this article appears in print on August 29, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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