Voters to get smart NID cards without fingerprint, iris

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Dhaka: The Election Commission is planning to distribute smart national identity cards (NID) without taking any finger print and (eye) iris to expedite the distribution process.

“As we have no enough machines, we’re thinking distributing the smart NID cards among the people without taking prints of 10 fingers and irises to gear up the distribution process,” said Secretary of the Election Commission Secretariat Muhammad Abdullah on Thursday.

“We’ll have to complete distribution of 90 million smart cards across the country within the project period of December 31 next,” he told reporters at his office of Nirbachan Bhaban in the city’s Agargaon area.

The process of taking fingerprints and irises will be dropped immediately after the Election Commission approves the proposal in its meeting, he added.

The EC Secretary said the distribution process got slow as there are no adequate machines to take fingerprints and irises.

Besides, taking fingerprints and irises was not mentioned in the project but it was included in the process following the suggestion of intelligence agencies and the law enforcement agencies, he added.

In January 2015, Oberthur Technologies got the Tk 7960-million contract for production and distribution of 90 million smart NID cards with 25 security features within 18 months under the EC’s Identification System for Enhancing Access to Services (IDEA) project.

As the Commission failed to distribute the smart cards within the stipulated time, the period of IDEA project was extended until December 2017 from July 2016.

According to the latest update of the voter list, there are some 101.7 million voters across the country, but the EC in October last year started its move to provide 90 million voters with the smart cards.

About the remaining 11.7 million fresh voters, the EC has a plan to produce smart NID cards locally for them. Signing an agreement with Bangladesh Machine Tools Factory to produce the cards is now at the final stage.

The high security featured cards are now being distributed in the capital and the port city of Chittagong. The cards will be distributed in the divisional cities, district downs and rural areas in phases.

Nearly 60 percent of the smart cards were distributed in the capital even after six months of the inception of the distribution process, while the remaining 40 percent of the cards remain undistributed.