Tug of war over Aadhaar slowing its progress

  • Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 03, 2014 00:26 IST

Three NDA ministries are trying to pull the UPA’s signature project, Aadhaar, in different directions, threatening to further slow down the plan to give all residents a unique identity number (UID).

Sources told HT that three ministries — home, planning and information technology — were preparing to move the cabinet with their own plans for Aadhaar launched by Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani.

Aadhaar numbers have already been generated for 640 million people. Another 460 million are targeted to be completed by this year-end. But the uncertainty over Aadhaar’s future due to the change in government has already slowed down enrolment.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issued just 8.1 million Aadhaar numbers last month in contrast to 35.8 million in January this year. Nilekani — who quit UIDAI to contest elections on a Congress ticket — was not available for comments.

The planning ministry wants the cabinet’s approval to allow the UIDAI to enrol residents from 18 to 22 states and Union Territories. The ministry of information technology — that has the mandate to come up with e-governance applications — on the other hand wants the Aadhaar database to be placed under its charge.

The home ministry, however, wants the govt to reverse the UPA’s decision to allow UIDAI to enrol any residents. Instead, it wants to allow only the census commissioner — who is putting together the National Population Register — to enrol biometric details.

This, it is argued, would end the need for people to enrol their names twice.

“We do not know how it will play out,” said a government source, pointing that the PMO was expected to intervene “sooner than later” to bring some clarity.

The Nilekani-lead UIDAI was set up in 2009 with a mandate to generate Aadhaar numbers. But it persuaded then PM Manmohan Singh to allow them to enrol biometric details of the residents as well, a move that was projected to cost nearly `1,000 crore due to duplication.

640 million Total Aadhaar numbers generated.
463 million Aadhaar generated through UIDAI enrollment.
177 million Aadhaar generated through National Population Register enrollment.
Total target: Enrollment of 1.10 billion people by end of 2014.

A valid proof of identification for availing government services such as opening of bank account or applying for driving licence.
Aadhaar enabled biometric attendance has also been introduced in some govt and private offices.
Aadhaar number linked bank accounts opened for direct benefit transfer of government services to plug leakages.

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