Biometric ID Cards

The government has decided to expand the distribution of national identity cards to 15 more districts of the country. The Department of National Identity Card and Civil Registration under the Ministry of Home Affairs has intensified the process of distributing the multiuse national ID cards. Initiated from the eastern hilly district of Panchthar, the plan is now being implemented in Jhapa, Sankhuwasabha, Saptari, Mahottari, Lalitpur, Rasuwa, Chitwan, Tanahun, Syangja, Kapilvastu, Gulmi, Salyan, Jumla, Achham and Kanchanpur districts. According to a news report published in this daily the other day, the department has already forwarded the process of collecting personal details of the citizens in Jhapa, Chitwan, Saptari, Lalitpur, Kanchanpur and Achham districts. Based on digitalised chips, the biometric ID cards are going to serve as a citizen’s national identity card and voter identity documents. They will also be used as the person’s land and other property ownership document and banking and social security cards. Besides, the cards will also be a handy document for security management.

The department presented the national ID cards to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and his spouse Radhika Shakya amidst a function organised at the PM’s official residence at Baluwatar on Tuesday. As of now, the department has distributed some 100,000 ID cards. Of them, 92,000 are distributed to the residents of Panchthar districts and 8,000 civil servants working at Singha Durbar and to other dignitaries. The department aims to complete the distribution of national ID cards to all Nepalis obtaining the citizenship certificates in the next two years. The national ID cards will be very useful to citizens as the documents help address all of their identity-related issues. Because the cards include the persons’ biological and personal details, such cards will also be helpful for the authorities concerned to identify the persons who are at health risks. Whenever it is necessary, the ID cards can be scanned and searched on a national database if individuals are in a medically emergency situation. If it is difficult for the authorities or family to identify the patient (when badly hurt or unconscious), he/she can be identified through the card.

As the citizens can enjoy all the services offered by the state with the use of a single ID card, they will not have to carry additional documents for their identification. Besides, it will also be easier for the government to formulate national development plans, implement programmes and maintain security. The ID cards also help the government maintain exact records of Nepalis, Non-Resident Nepalis and foreigners. As these cards incorporate biometrics of an individual, they are sure to help prevent identity forgery. These cards can be instrumental in maintaining national security. The government can prevent individuals, who are deemed national security threats, from flying abroad or going to other places using land routes. With Nepal having open border with India, various cross-border criminal activities such as murder, swindling and human trafficking have often been reported. In the absence of national ID cards, it has not been easy for the security agencies to contain the cross-country criminal groups. Once the national ID cards are distributed nationwide, the security agencies may find it more convenient to monitor and crack down on such rackets. These cards will also prevent proxy voting in elections. What is needed is that the department must ensure that the cards meet universal standard.  

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