Issuing process begins for those sans IDs
By N.Dilshath Banu
Grama niladharis throughout the country have been directed to ensure that all persons eligible for a National Identity Card be issued with required application forms, Department of Registration of Persons Commissioner H.K Geethasena said.

The forms which are being distributed will be collected on February 18 and 19 by the grama niladhari who will visit the homes, he said. “The grama niladharis are due to complete the distribution of applications forms before this coming Friday. If anyone couldn’t get an application form, he can get one from the grama niladhari,” Mr. Geethasena said.

Once the completed application forms are collected by the grama niladharis they have to be handed over to the Divisional Secretary by February 24 and should reach the Department of Registration of Persons before March 3. The Department is expected to process the application forms within a month, depending on the number of applications received and send the IDs to the respective Divisional Secretariats. From the Divisional Secretariat the IDs will go to the respective grama niladharis from whom the people will have to get them.

According to the Department of Registration of Persons nearly 2 million people don’t have IDs. Of this number, it is estimated that only 1.5 million people will have the appropriate documents to get their IDs.

“Many do not wish to get their IDs as they are old and live in remote villages. They lack motivation to apply for an ID, thinking that they may not need one, ” Mr Geethasena said.

“We cannot issue IDs without supporting birth certificates and some people whose IDs are pending are not in a position to produce their birth certificates,” he said.

Currently, around 40,000 cards are processed per month with 2500 to 3000 processed in a day. Nearly 250 cards will be issued in the same day service.
Since the beginning of this month, the number of people applying for this service has increased.

Mr. Geethasena said plans are underway to computerize the process of issuing IDs. “If we have a computerized system, we can process 15,000 cards per day. In the past we tried this system, but we couldn’t continue it as changing policies of Governments made it difficult to continue it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Elections Commissioner W.P. Sumanasiri said though the National ID was an important document for voting at elections, it was not made compulsory.

“The Elections Commissioner could make it compulsory only after getting confirmation from the Registrations of the Persons Commissioner and the Pradeshiya Sabhas that every eligible person has got his/her ID. Until then, people can produce any other kind of identification card if necessary,” Mr. Sumanasiri said.

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