The union cabinet Thursday discussed a fresh row between the home ministry and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and decided both will collect biometric data of 1.2 billion Indians, said sources.
The home ministry, headed by P Chidambaram, and the UIDAI, headed by Nandan Nilekani, have been battling over the issue of collection of biometric data which entails the right to scan people's eyes and fingerprints.
In January, a cabinet committee on UIDAI, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, had settled the turf war between the home minister and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and said UIDAI (which comes under the Planning Commission) would issue 600 million cards in 16 states and union territories.
The home ministry will cover the remaining 600 million people as part of the National Population Register (NPR) being prepared by the Registrar General of India, the cabinet panel had said.
Sources said the cabinet again discussed the issue Thursday after Chidambaram recently wrote to the prime minister complaining that the NPR project had "come to a standstill" because of the UID scheme.
"The collection of photographs and biometrics has been facing hurdles at every step on account approach of the UIDAI, which, it seems, has failed to appreciate the core purpose of the National Population Register," Chidambaram said in his letter.
He also slammed the UIDAI for allegedly not following the cabinet's orders.
"Despite clear orders from the cabinet, the UIDAI is objecting to the conduct of NPR camps in certain states and is also refusing to accept the biometric data of NPR for de-duplication and generation of Aadhaar number," he said.
The NPR would lead to a resident identity card which will culminate in a citizenship card.
The UID project seeks to provide unique identity numbers to the marginalised sections of society and strengthen equity.