UIDAI-Plan panel in a fresh row
Row between Nandan Nilekani led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the Planning Commission is not over with the former expressing its displeasure over allocation for the next financial year.
The Plan Panel had earlier objected to UIDAI’s move to collect biometric details of entire population saying it would lead to duplication of work as Home Ministry’s National Population Register (NPR) had a similar mandate.
The issue was resolved after a Cabinet Committee on UIDAI decided to split biometric collection of residents between the authority and NPR. After the Cabinet decision, plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia had claimed that both the organizations --- UIDAI and NPR --- will work together to implement the decision.
The UIDAI has now charged the plan panel of putting a financial barrier to meet the target of enrolling additional 40 crore people by June next year.
The root of the dispute was the Plan Panel’s decision to allocate just Rs 1,750 crore to UIDAI for the financial year 2012-13. The authority had sought Rs 3,250 crore to ensure that it would be able to enroll a million people every day.
In a recent communiqué to the panel, the UIDAI had argued that the Cabinet Committee this January had approved an additional Rs 5,791 crore for the UIDAI project up to March 2017 and therefore, it should get adequate money to implement the project.
The UIDAI says the project is of vital importance to India as the government plans to replace indirect fuel and food subsidy with direct cash transfer to unique identification or Aadhaar number linked bank account of beneficiaries. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is expected to announce a scheme in this regard in the budget.
The plan panel is, however, not willing to buy the argument and had stuck with its initial allocation of Rs 1,750 crore. It says, if required, the unique identification authority can seek additional funding during supplementary grants decided in the winter session of Parliament.
The project aimed at providing an Aadhaar number to each resident in India by June next year would cost Rs 8,814 to the government. Of this, an allocation of Rs 3,023 crore has already been made to UIDAI.