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First digital ID card issued in Panchthar

Centenarian Bhagawati Devi Bhandari, a resident of Phidim Municipality-4, acquired the first national ID card in the country from Minister for Home Affairs Ram Bahadur Thapa in Panchthar district on Monday.

Special guest at the function, Bhandari then handed over a national ID belonging to another national to Minister Thapa at a function organised on the premises of the District Coordination Committee to launch the biometric identification distribution.

The 101-year-old was brought to the programme venue on a vehicle belonging to Phidim Municipality from her residence about 3km away.

Talking to the Post after receiving the ID, Bhandari said she had no idea what one could do with the card. “I don’t know what will happen how. Grandson will say about it,” she said, pointing to Dipak who had brought her there to collect the card.

Minister Thapa arrived at the district with high-level officials on a Nepal Army helicopter. Province 1 Chief Minister Sherdhan Rai and provincial Minister for Financial Affairs and Planning Indra Angbo also attended the function chaired by Home Secretary Prem Kumar Rai.

Thapa said at the function that the government would have detailed information on the citizens through the identification system. He added that the government would use the information for planning.

Only two biometric cards were distributed on Monday even as the authorities planned to issue 50 other cards through the Panchthar District Administration Office on the first day of distribution. The national IDs were also distributed from Singha Durbar, the government’s secretariat, simultaneously.

Chomendra Neupane, director at the National ID Management Centre, said the ID recipient will get an SMS notice requesting them to collect the card once the officials are ready to issue the documents. The SMS alert system tested successful as the card holders had received information, he added.

According to Neupane, 2,429 ID cards have reached Panchthar while others are being printed. Beginning on June 19, data on some 52,000 people was collected in the district by Sunday evening in preparation for the ID card.

In the pilot phase, authorities plan to issue the cards as replacement of the existing paper documents to 117,000 people in Panchthar and the civil servants working at Singha Durbar. The authority plans to distribute 3.5 million cards in 15 other districts in the second phase. Plans are for issuing the IDs in 25 districts next fiscal year and in 36 districts in the fiscal 2020-21.

The electronic card has biometric data of each eligible Nepali citizen along with a unique identification number. It contains family name, given name, address, father’s name, mother’s name, photo and four fingerprints of both thumbs and two index fingers.

Ten years since its inception, the National ID Management Centre under the aegis of the Home Ministry started printing the cards in November with support from the Asian Development Bank.


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