New voters to get NID cards from March

The Election Commission is set to start handing over laminated NID cards this March to those who have been included in the voter list since 2013.

“Around 50 lakh out of 1.1 crore cards have been printed so far. We hope to start the distribution in March,” Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury told The Daily Star yesterday.

For those with NID cards, but not the smart ones, the EC plans to complete smart NID card distribution by December. It began the distribution on December 1 in 37 districts.

Brig Gen Mohammed Saidul Islam, project director of IDEA, told The Daily Star, “Smart cards are almost ready; we are waiting for finger print and IRIS machines. We will get those by this month and hopefully start delivery of the cards to [the people in] all the districts from February.”

Those who have been included in the voter list since 2013 would have their smart cards later.

The commission has also taken an initiative to purchase 2,000 sets of finger print recording machines and 2,000 more Image Recognition Intelligence Software (IRIS) scanners. Once those machines are received, the cards would be distributed across the country in a smoother way, said officials.

Besides, the commission has taken a number of steps to end the hassle of those who have lost their cards or want to replace them, said its officials.

For example, if anyone loses his or her National Identification (NID) Card, the person would no longer need to come to Dhaka to get a new one. The person can collect it from the regional election offices.

The commission has already given authority to the 10 regional election offices to reprint lost cards.

They also said the commission is thinking about withdrawing the clause that mandates filing of a general diary after a card is lost to make the process smoother.

Besides, the commission is planning to install a card management software to deliver the cards to citizens within 30 working days.

During that period, both the cardholder can track the status of the card online.

French company, Oberthur Technologies (OT), won the bid in January 2015 for production, personalisation and supply of the 90 million cards.

The EC scrapped the deal with OT for its failure to complete the production and supply of all cards on time after extending the deadline twice.

The EC worked out a plan to provide the smart cards to voters under the Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) project in 2011.

The use of National Identification (NID) Card is becoming essential for Bangladeshis, as they are similar to social security cards or passports, which are equally important in other countries.