Unique Identity Authority of India chairman Nandan Nilekani on Friday said it would take about a year to issue the first unique identity (UID) number in the country.
"According to the present status of the project, the first UID issuance will take 12 to 18 months from the date of sanction of the project in August (2009). It is likely to cover about 600 million people within five years," Nilekani told reporters in Shimla.
He was in Shimla to attend a two-day workshop organised by the Indian Institute of Advanced Study (IIAS), a premier advanced research institution in the field of humanities and social sciences.
"In our country, inability to establish one's identity is one of the biggest barriers preventing the poor from availing government welfare schemes. This problem can be tackled by issuing a unique number to each Indian that can be verified by any public authority to establish the identity of the individual," Nilekani said.
"The number given as the unique identity will be linked to the basic information about the individual and his or her biometric information," he said.
Nilekani said the biometric information will help in preventing duplication as the backup system for issuing UIDs would be capable of checking every entry against millions of other entries to ensure that there is no duplication.
"In the initial stages of the project, the UID will be voluntary and it will ultimately serve as identity proof for all purposes," he said.