Sumit Kumar is just 12 years old, but he already has a taste of how the government functions. He had to skip school in northwest Delhi for three days to get his Aadhaar number, now a must to avail government services in the Capital.
The Northwest district, where 73% of the residents had enrolled till December 2012, is one of 20 selected by the Centre for the launch of direct-benefit transfer (DBT) for seven central schemes, including pre- and post-matric scholarship, on January 1, 2013.
Kumar’s school had told him that he would not get pre-matric scholarship without an Aadhaar number. He, along with his mother, had visited Dilkush Industrial Area near Azadpur thrice to get enrolled. He was finally enrolled on Wednesday at a centre based in an office of an investment company after he stood for three hours in the cold.
Asha Kumari, a resident of Jehangirpuri slums, was not so fortunate. After waiting for almost two hours outside the centre, she was turned away on the ground that she did not have the requisite documents for enrollment. She needs Aadhaar number for getting cooking gas subsidy.
The sudden rush at the Azadpur centre is because the Unique Identification Authority of India had closed down two other enrollment centres — Shalimar Bagh and Jehangirpuri — without caring to inform most in the area. Online appointments are now available only at this centre and mobile contacts of other enrollment centres in the districts are not working, leading to the rush.
None of the three enrollment centres where HT went were “citizen-friendly”. There was no public-information board stating which documents are required to get enrolled and a system of taking an appointment for subsequent days. Many people were told that there documentation was incomplete at the time of getting their biometrics recorded, resulting in the entire effort going waste.
An employee of the private enrollment agency at Azadpur could be seen giving wrong information to people that they will have to get enrolled once again if they gone through the home ministry’s National Population Register (NPR). A large number of people in the Northwest district got themselves enrolled under NPR process five to seven months ago but are yet to get their Aadhaar letters — another reason for the last-minute rush.
Inside the enrollment centres, recording fingerprints of many was not easy. “There is a problem with taking fingerprints,” admitted an official at Samaipur Badli enrollment centre, where a majority of the applicants was unskilled workers. “In cases, the machine took 15-20 minutes to record a fingerprint,” he said.
If the biometrics is not recorded, the private enrollment agency cannot seek payment. For each successful enrollment authenticated by the fingerprint of the enroller, the agency gets Rs. 40. And, this is also a reason for them to enroll those who have already applied under the NPR process.