CAG exposes BIG flaws in Assam NRC updation process; vulnerable to data tampering
The CAG report, which was submitted to the Assam Assembly on Saturday, pointed out that 215 software utilities were added in a haphazard manner to the core software. This was done without following the due process of either software development or selection of vendors through eligibility assessment following a national tendering.
Improper software development related to data capture and correction during the updation process of the citizenship document poses the risk of data tampering in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India has flagged.
The CAG noted that the NRC updation exercise required highly secure and reliable software, but an audit showed a lack of proper planning in this regard. To note, the NRC validates bonafide Indian citizens of Assam. The NRC was updated in Assam under a Supreme Court bench's supervision. The updated final NRC was released on August 31, 2019. Out of 3,30,27,661 applicants, a total of 3,11,21,004 names have been included. However, the list is yet to be notified.
The CAG report, which was submitted to the Assam Assembly on Saturday, pointed out that 215 software utilities were added in a haphazard manner to the core software.
The report noted that this was done without following the due process of either software development or selection of vendor through eligibility assessment following a national tendering.
The report further said that the haphazard development of software and utilities for NRC data capture and correction posed the risk of data tampering without leaving any audit trail. The CAG report said that the audit trail could have ensured accountability for the veracity of NRC data.
The CAG maintained that despite entailing huge expenditure to the state exchequer, the objective of preparing a valid error-free NRC had not been met.
According to the report, there have been irregularities in fund utilisation, including excess and inadmissible payments to vendors.
The CAG report -- 'Compliance Audit of Logistical Arrangements for NRC Updation Project in Assam' -- recommended fixing responsibility on erring authorities, including against the State Coordinator of National Registration (SCNR), for the financial irregularities and penal action against M/s Wipro Limited, the system integrator, for violating Minimum Wages Act.
It noted that when the NRC updation process commenced in December 2014, the initial project cost was estimated at Rs 288.18 crore and the deadline for completion was February 2015. However, the final document draft was published in August 2019, and the project cost escalated to Rs 1,602.66 crore (an expenditure of Rs 1,579.78 crore was reported), the CAG report said.
To note, the commissioner and secretary in the political department of the Assam government were designated as the SCNR to carry out the NRC updation exercise. As revealed during its audit, the CAG report highlighted non-adherence by M/s Wipro Limited to the Minimum Wages Act in payment to operators. The CAG recommended penal action against the system integrator.