With general elections less than six months away, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde has asked defence minister AK Antony to quickly finalise the Group of Ministers’ report to give people their first chip-based national ID card.
The home ministry had planned to give the card to every resident older than 18 years who figures in the National Population Register. Nearly 1.17 billion people have been enrolled in the register.
PM Manmohan Singh had referred the ambitious `5,552 crore project to the GoM in February this year after central ministers wondered at the cabinet meeting if this would duplicate cards issued by Aadhaar.
Shinde and finance minister P Chidambaram had then tried to explain that Aadhaar was just a number and not a card. But the clarifications did not help and the project was referred to the GoM.
Anxious to get the identity card project rolling before the country moves into campaign mode for the next Lok Sabha elections, government sources told HT that Shinde had taken up the delay in the GoM’s report with his senior colleague in the Cabinet.
“The HM pointed that the panel had held extensive discussions on the ID card on at two occasions that discussed the project and sought an expeditious decision,” the source said.
Shinde also pointed that the project had already received approval of the expenditure finance committee, a panel of top bureaucrats.
Security agencies have, on more than one occasion, asked the government to quickly issue the ID cards at least in coastal and border districts. More than 65 lakh ID cards have already been issued in coastal villages under a plan put in place in the months after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.