Birth, death registrations missing in CRS

Civil Registration System is the Centre’s nationwide digital database

Telangana, an IT powerhouse base for top multinationals and home grown firms, is glaringly absent in the nationwide digital database of Civil Registration System (CRS), a dynamic births & deaths website initiated by the Union Government in 2015 for a uniform registration process across the country.

While the Registrar General India (RGI) at the Centre coordinates registration activities throughout the country, in 19 States it is either the Health Department, department of economics and statistics in 12 States or respective local governments in four States which do the job.

The Chief Registrar in the State is Director of Public Health with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC)’s Chief Medical Officer of Health (CMOH) being the local registration authority. States have their own unified birth and death registration management system which continues in Telangana, whereas Andhra Pradesh has integrated the data into the Centre’s CRS.

The State website till June 2 shows 92% (1781985 signed/1936871 recorded) births are registered in municipal corporations, 86% ( 2808896/3256942 ) in municipalities and just 63% (118075/184743) in village panchayats. For deaths, it shows 90% (282095 signed/ 311606 recorded) registered in municipalities, and 83% (232833/279125 ) in municipal corporations and 28% (33102/114670) in villages.

It means 8% births in municipal corporations, 14% in municipalities and 37% in villages are missing. More obvious is in the death rates during COVID-19 – 72% details are missing in villages, 10% in municipalities, and in cities it is 17% , inform senior officials, pleading anonymity.

Andhra Pradesh is the only southern State in CRS, and following a training programme at district, mandal and panchayat levels, records were digitised in 2017 in a phased manner and data got integrated. Now, its ‘live’ with eight lakh births and around 3 lakh deaths registrations each year with an operator in each district.

If this issue has escaped the attention at the Telangana State-level with no integration of data between urban and rural areas, the GHMC has been rapidly dismantling its digital model.

“Birth and death certificates can be taken only from MeeSeva centres with Citizen Service Centres (CSC) in circle offices stopped from issuing. Health assistants appointed for the purpose have been taken off the task and assistant municipal commissioners told to handle the subject, which many are reluctant considering the legal issues involved," they claim.

The GHMC, a pioneer in digitisation of records, started in 2005 and completed the process of 90 lakh entries by 2008 with in house software computerising backwards till 1958, leaving out those issued in Urdu prior to that.

Birth certificates had five water marks as security features akin to currency notes, were available online and sent home through a courier avoiding official ‘touch’ all through.

The then Deputy Registration General of India had even visited the head office to check, they recall and point out that it served as a blueprint for CRS. Since then, it has been a steep fall in the service with online access removed, applications piling up and registrations not up to date. Senior officials say birth certificates should be made available online and in CSCs also along with MeeSeva centres. “Corrective action should be taken if there are misdemeanours, rather than throw the baby and the bathwater together," they sum up.

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