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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

UIDAI, Plan panel refuse to budge; fight still on

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 30, 2011
First Published: 00:35 IST(30/9/2011) | Last Updated: 02:23 IST(30/9/2011)

The slugfest between Nandan Nilekani headed Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Planning Commission continues with both refusing to budge from their stated position.

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Nilekani claimed his office can't report to the plan panel on daily basis saying the rules did not allow whereas the panel officials insisted that UIDAI is under its administrative control.

As per government notification, UIDAI is attached to the plan panel, which is responsible for the authority's budgetary spending. The panel had objected to UIDAI sending financial proposals for Cabinet and finance ministry approval without getting vetted from line ministry, the commission.  http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/30-09-11-metro14.jpg

"I have powers delegated by the prime minister. Ram Sewak Sharma (Director General, UIDAI) was appointed by panel's deputy chairman. Ganga was appointed by the finance ministry. This is the decided structure of our function," Nilekani said, adding that if the government wants it can change the rules. 

The Infosys co-founder was reacting to recent plan panel note accusing UIDAI of not having proper financial monitoring and seeking the powers for the same. Nilekani had spoken with panel's deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who he described as his mentor, on the note on Wednesday night. Ahluwalia on his return from his foreign visit on Monday is expected to sort out the differences.

Sudha Pillai, panel's member secretary, said: "We have raised the issue of double and excessive expenditure and had been trying to prevent any adverse comment later on." Another official said financial proposals of other offices attached with the panel such as Innovation Council headed by Sam Pitroda is examined by the commission before sending for approval of higher authorities. But, UIDAI is an exception.

The authority also made it clear that the issue of iris scan as third biometric requirement raised by the panel was a "closed chapter". It contradicted the panel's claim that iris will lead to huge costs without much benefit.  Till now 10 crore people have been enrolled and 3.75 lakh Aadhaar numbers have been generated.


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