Biometric data collection for each unique Aadhar number costs up to Rs10 more than the price paid by the home ministry-driven National Population Register for collecting exactly the same data: a photograph, iris scan and ten finger-prints.
If the government clears the Planning Commission proposal to let the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) duplicate the enrolment process beyond 20 crore people, the higher rates paid by state governments for Aadhar alone would mean a difference of up to Rs1,000 crore.
The home ministry has opposed the plan panel proposal to duplicate the enrolment process, since the NPR database could be used to give Indians a unique identity number.
Back on the envelope calculations by government officials indicate the home ministry spends R25-28 per person for collection of biometric data for the National Population Register.
This is lower than the average of Rs30-35 that is spent for the same task by state governments for every successful generation of an Aadhar number.
UIDAI director general RS Sharma said the cost of biometric enrolment differed from state to state, and district to district, depending on a variety of factors including connectivity and security situation. But overall, the average cost for biometric enrolment appears to be around Rs30-35.
While this might mean that private parties find the UIDAI deal more lucrative than the NPR, the UIDAI hasn't really suffered a financial loss due to the higher rates.
In a bid to attract government agencies to enrol individuals, UIDAI had committed to pay its registrars R50 for every successful enrolment irrespective of the actual expenditure incurred by them.
Sharma did not explain why vendors were charging less for NPR. But UIDAI officials suggested the per capita cost comparison for successful enrolment would be lower in case of Aadhar.