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Providing Aadhaar details mandatory for migrants and others before returning to Odisha post lockdown

Odisha’s government will require residents returning from other states, like migrant labourers, to submit their Aadhaar and phone number before they can travel to the state. The state government has launched a portal where the registration form can be filled and submitted, and said it will take “strict action” against people who provide incorrect information. The form can also be obtained from gram panchayats in the state and filled by relatives or friends of people stranded in other parts of the country, according to Deccan Herald, but people who do not fill out the form will reportedly not be allowed to enter the state.

The government said that the mandatory registration will “help the State Government to reach out to you and plan for your travel back to Odisha”. A person’s mobile number is needed to send an OTP post registration, along with other information related to the registration process including travelling, and quarantine arrangements. People who return to the state after the lockdown will be required to “go through and follow the rules of quarantine for a period of 14 days”.

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Why Aadhaar? The government has not yet provided any reason for why it needs a person’s Aadhaar details for this exercise, and why any other government ID would not suffice. We’ve emailed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s office for clarification.

“According to the government, there are more than 5 lakh migrants who would be wanting to return and most of them are informal sector workers. It is possible, and fair to assume, that a sizeable number of them might not have an Aadhaar card or be carrying it. We would like to submit that we are witnessing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis and in such a situation, our approach should be one of making things easy for the most vulnerable sections of the society. Making Aadhaar mandatory for registration doesn’t serve that approach well,” said the Citizens’ Action Group on COVID-19 — an advocacy group based in Odisha — in a statement to MediaNama.

Why not other government IDs? The group said that the government should also consider other government IDs including voter IDs, and driving license, or a post-registration authentication by the Panchayat. Details submitted by various helplines set up since the outbreak of COVID-19, data available with the inter-state migrant workers’ register and information collected by Gram Panchayats from affected families should be equally as valid, it added.

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