Within weeks after home ministry protests halted the expansion of the Nandan Nilekani-led UID project, the Planning Commission that administers UID has hit back.The Planning Commission has rejected the home ministry proposal to issue smart identity cards to all residents based on the National Population Register (NPR) — a digital data base currently under construction — saying the chip-based ID cards were a waste of public money. It has invoked its veto power to stall the Rs 6,790-crore project, government sources said.
Home minister P Chidambaram had opposed the UIDAI Aadhaar proposal, saying it would lead to duplication since the census commissioner was already mandated to create the national population register.
Chidambaram stuck to his stand despite plan panel deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia backing Nilekani.
The ministry wanted to give all adult residents an identity card which could be read with a hand-held device that wouldn’t require Net connectivity.
The panel’s refusal means the project cannot be processed. Government sources said the ministry could ask the panel to reconsider its view or directly ask the cabinet to mediate.
The panel reasoned that the Aadhaar scheme can already perform many functions of the ministry’s plan and has a more secure architecture with online authentication — essentially saying “another card to residents would only entail additional costs with no added advantage”. The panel also questioned the rationale for issuing the card to residents rather than citizens.
Ahluwalia had backed the need for “smart cards based on unique identity” when the ministerial group tasked to collate the population register and the unique identification numbers first met in November 2007.