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The government is set to allow the Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI enrol people for Aadhaar numbers in the four states including Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, a decision that could waste over Rs. 400 crore of taxpayers’ money and force over 300 million people to queue up twice.
The Cabinet Committee on Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will take the final call on the proposal on Thursday.
The four states – Bihar, UP, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand – were reserved for the home ministry-driven National Population Register (NPR) as part of a compromise deal worked out by the cabinet panel two years back.
The Prime Minister’s Office and the Planning Commission, however, are pushing for revisiting this arrangement despite reservations by the ministries of finance and home.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram is learnt to have backed the home ministry view that the UIDAI could start enrolment in 50 districts of the four states where the NPR has not started enrolment to reduce duplication. Chidambaram has also made it clear that UIDAI should not expect any additional funds in this financial year.
A back-of-the-envelope calculation by HT indicated the duplication of effort and resources would cost the public exchequer at least an additional Rs. 400 crore.
A government functionary told HT that the government did not appear averse to the “avoidable” public expenditure if it helps fast-track the direct benefit transfer project in the two politically important states, Bihar and UP.