The mother of all identity cards — the multi-purpose ID smart card — to be issued to every resident will come at a price tag of Rs 6,790 crore.
The home ministry has firmed up its plan to issue the ID card to over 84 crore people above 18 years and has moved the government for financial clearance.
The ID card will be the public face of the National Population Register (NPR) that will become a confidential database once it is finalised.
The NPR and the ID cards will get its unique character from Aadhaar, the Nandan Nilekani-led unique identity number project.
But a 64 kb embedded chip in the card will ensure that residents will not have to depend on internet connectivity for a machine to read the details.
A home ministry official said they wanted to avoid the dependence on internet connectivity to access or verify the identity of the card-holder.
This is a disadvantage that Aadhaar numbers may have to face, at least in the short run due to patchy mobile and internet connectivity in rural and remote areas.
Instead, a hand-held chip reader — the size of a credit card swipe reader — that costs about Rs 7,000, would be able to print the data on its small screen. This would include the photograph, pictures of two fingerprints and other demographic details such as date of birth, place of birth and the name of the resident’s father or mother. The card will have a validity of 10 years.
Home Ministry officials said they were projecting a cost of R80 per card including delivery on the basis of their experience in coastal areas.
“We have been able to reduce the postage charges by one-fourth, primarily because we will post the cards to families rather than individuals”.