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UIDAI faces brunt of in-house skepticism

The siege on the Nandan Nilekani-headed Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) seems to be tightening. Chetan Chauhan reports. Objections raised

delhi Updated: May 21, 2012 01:35 IST
Chetan Chauhan
Chetan Chauhan
Hindustan Times

The siege on the Nandan Nilekani-headed Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) seems to be tightening.

Today, the home ministry is not the only in-house element objecting to the scheme. Four more ministries - finance, rural development, labour and food - have questioned the need for switching to unique identification or the Aadhaar number regime to transfer benefits.

The banking division of the finance ministry, which has so far backed UIDAI, initiated its own authentication service for online transfer of funds in Haryana's Mewat region. The food ministry has issued guidelines to prepare a computerised database of around 30 crore beneficiaries under the public distribution system (PDS) on a platform developed by the National Informatics Centre.

The UIDAI spent most of the last one year battling opposition from the home ministry, which cited security-related issues. The Planning Commission, the parent body of UIDAI, also raised concerns on pricing of Aadhaar enrolment. Nilekani had successfully countered these claims and settled for splitting the enrolment with the home ministry.

With the UIDAI now shifting focus on a new dimension - Aadhaar-based applications - the food, rural development and labour ministries have raised concern over real-time authentication of Aadhaar-linked bank accounts for transfer of funds.

RS Sharma, UIDAI director-general, was confident of addressing the concerns soon. Nilekani couldn't be contacted.

The food ministry wants to know how Aadhar will integrate platforms used by various states to distribute subsidised ration under PDS. Several states are also concerned about the cost involved in bringing schemes on the Aadhaar platform.

"UIDAI just wants to push its proposals through the finance ministry," said a senior official.

First Published: May 20, 2012 23:27 IST