With census work still incomplete due to the opposition by Maoist guerrillas, the Chhattisgarh government is uncertain about the success of the Aadhaar project to provide unique identity numbers in the state’s tribal areas.
The government has selected Jagdalpur — one of the five districts of Bastar least affected by Maoist violence — for the first phase of the UID project beginning March this year. In the areas where Maoist violence is rampant, the Chhattisgarh police felt the Aadhaar project would be of immense help. “Genuine identity will help during search and combing operations in the war zone,” inspector general of police (operations) Rajesh Mishra said.
The project has its socio-economic aspect, too. It will enable poor tribals get government help more regularly. Bastar commissioner B Srinivasulu said, “The UIDs will emerge as catalysts for backward areas and we hope the Maoists understand the significance of the project.”
But the state machinery is not too optimistic as it has not been able to complete census in several remote areas in south Bastar considered to be Maoist strongholds. PK Choudhary, a senior census official, said, “Additional time was given till September to carry out census in remote Bastar. But about 120 villages are still left out.”
Officials in Bastar felt that Maoists could pressure the tribals to ignore any identification exercise. “A lot depends on how the project works out in Jagdalpur. Even creating awareness among the tribals about the UID scheme is a challenge in Maoists-dominated areas,” said Lokesh Kumar, officer on special duty (UID project) in Chhattisgarh.