A cabinet panel headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday sealed the compromise over expansion of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to minimise duplication of effort and resources with the home ministry-driven National Population Register.
The decision to empower the UIDAI to enrol a total of 60 crore people in 13 selected states including Delhi and Maharashtra and three union territories will, however, still lead to some duplication of resources.
After the meeting of the cabinet committee on UID on Friday evening, Home Minister P Chidambaram said some instances of duplication — where a person’s biometric data would be collected twice — were unavoidable in a country of India’s size.Out of the additional Rs 5,500 crore cleared on Friday for the Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI, Chidambaram — who had Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Ahluwalia and Nilekani sitting by his side — suggested there could be "small area of overlap".
There could be 5% duplication, implying a wastage of Rs 250 crore, he said. But getting UIDAI as well as the NPR to simultaneously enrol people "would speed up the process".
The home minister said a billion people would be enrolled for the National Population Register — along with the three biometric details, iris scan, ten fingerprints and a photograph —by June 2013.
Nilekani said the UIDAI would pause and take a close look at its procedures and systems in light of security concerns raised by the home ministry.
But it was not clear if the NPR would have to temporarily stop enrolment in the 16 selected states and UTs where the UIDAI has been allowed to enrol people. "This would expose the government to litigation since private vendors have already bought the equipment and hired operators," a government official later said.