Large scale anomalies in Assam NRC updation, says CAG report

The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has detected anomalies in the updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam while the audit body is recommending action against a former State Coordinator and system integrator Wipro.

The CAG report submitted to the Assam assembly on 24 December, said 215 software utilities were added in a haphazard manner to the core software used for the updating NRC due to the lack of proper planning, The Hindu reported.

“These were done without following the due process of either software development or selection of vendors through eligibility assessment following a national tendering,” read the report.

The haphazard development of software and utilities for the NRC data capture and correction posed the risk of data tampering without leaving any audit trail, the CAG report said.

The audit body recommended action the then State Coordinator Prateek Hajela. The Supreme Court-monitored NRC exercise was started after Hajela was appointed the State Coordinator in October 2013.

The CAG also sought penal measures against system integrator Wipro Limited for violation of the Minimum Wages Act as “payment was made to operators at a rate less than the minimum wages.”

However, the CAG pointed out that the project cost for the NRC escalated from ₹288.18 crore to ₹1,602.66 crore due to the time taken to undertake the exercise.

The complete draft of the list of citizens was published in August 2019, excluding 19.06 lakh people out of a total of 3.3 crore applicants.

Through the controversial citizenship list, the Hindutva government said it wants to detect and deport undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh.

Critics have been saying that Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has used the citizenship issue to target the minority-Muslim community, who form one-third of Assam state’s population.