A government panel has refused to fund the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to independently collect biometric details of 1.1 billion Indians a second time, and asked the authority to stick to 200 million residents as decided earlier.
The Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI had asked for Rs 14,840 crore to enable the authority to collect biometrics – scan Iris and ten fingerprints – of residents by 2017, independent of the National Population Register (NPR).
The UIDAI proposal would have duplicated the efforts of the census commissioner, who has already collected identity details of all residents and is in the process of collecting their biometrics. The census commissioner has the mandate, by law, to create a register of all residents and issue them cards.Government sources said the Expenditure Finance Commit-tee (EFC) headed by expenditure secretary Sumit Bose, which vets all proposals before they reach the Union cabinet, discussed Nilekani’s ambitious proposal on September 5 and 15.
Home secretary RK Singh and Planning Commission member secretary Sudha Pillai expressed serious reservations about the proposal, right from duplication of database to the quality of data security by private entities contracted to collect and process data.
UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
The panel is understood to have approved only about R3,082 crore for Phase 3 of Aadhaar project, beginning March 2011, which will be put up for approval of the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI.
This will cover the expenditure for issuing unique numbers to 200 million people, rather than 100 million that the UIDAI had to issue by March this year. The UIDAI has issued the Aadhaar number to 11 million people so far.
A government source said UIDAI has agreed to clear duplications in NPR database.