A panel of senior civil servants has slashed the Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India’s Rs. 5,061-crore plan for enrolling 400 million people for Aadhaar numbers.
The panel, headed by expenditure secretary RS Gujral whose approval is mandatory for all such schemes, reduced the plan by 30%, asking the UIDAI — that advocates the use of Aadhaar platforms to introduce efficiency in government spending — to make efficient use of the money.
UIDAI officials told HT that they had built a database of nearly 250 million residents and generated Aadhaar numbers for about 220 million people.The authority initially had a mandate to enroll 200 million residents, but was allowed to enroll 400 million others after a bitter turf war with the home ministry.
The panel told the authority to keep its spending within the Rs. 3,400-crore allocation by tweaking its processes, tightening its belt and introducing a fair bit of innovation.
For instance, the authority has been asked to abandon the existing process of sending Aadhaar numbers by Speed Post to each of the 400 million registered individuals.
Instead, it has been asked to follow the home ministry-driven National Population Register that sends ID cards to all members of a household in a single envelope.
But it’s not clear whether the UIDAI can implement this model since it collects and processes biometric data to register each individual separately.
An UIDAI official said the authority had been exploring the possibility of using SMSes to inform people about their Aadhaar number, wherever possible.
The UIDAI was also told that it was paying too much — Rs. 50 — for each enrollment to its registrars and the cap was lowered to Rs. 40.