Determined to make the ambitious project to issue identity cards to every resident a reality, Union home minister P Chidambaram has decided to directly approach the Union cabinet to get the government's approval for the Rs 6,700-crore project to issue smart cards.
The home ministry move comes on the heels of the Planning Commission rejecting the ID cards project as reported first by Hindustan Times on January 7.
Instead, the plan panel had pushed for funds to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to undertake enrolment of all residents for the unique identity number.
Government sources said the ministry had decided to move the Union cabinet to seek its in-principle approval for issuing the national identity cards to all residents above 18 years.
The Kargil Review committee had recommended issuing ID cards to help check illegal immigration from Bangladesh in 2000.
The decision to register all citizens and issue identity cards to them was taken soon after and the Citizenship Act amended by Parliament way back in 2003.
Sources, however, acknowledged that the ministry expected the Cabinet to take a decision on the ID card project and the Planning Commission's proposal for expanding the mandate of the UIDAI around the same time.
UIDAI was earlier been permitted to enroll 200 million residents till March 2012. Beyond this date, the home ministry was to carry out the enrolment (biographic and biometrics) and the UIDAI was to carry out de-duplication and issue Aadhaar numbers.
Chidambaram had opposed the UIDAI proposal for an expanded mandate, saying the ministry will not be able to use the database of residents generated by UIDAI due to concerns about its integrity.
The home minister also added that enrolling residents independently — by the UIDAI and the ministry's Registrar General of India — would duplicate efforts and waste public money.