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Citizen database work lacks coordination

In what clearly amounts to duplication, two government agencies are planning to create separate citizen databases including biometrics of the state's entire population in Haryana without any coordination. Navneet Sharma reports.

india Updated: Jul 29, 2011 11:40 IST
Navneet Sharma
Navneet Sharma
Hindustan Times

In what clearly amounts to duplication, two government agencies are planning to create separate citizen databases including biometrics of the state's entire population in Haryana without any coordination.

The food and supplies department of the Haryana government and the census department, Registrar General of India (RGI), have decided to undertake huge data collection work separately for their own databanks. The databases being prepared by the two government agencies will be almost identical with both gathering similar information. Besides, they will use the state machinery for data collection exercise.

The food and supplies department, which is collecting the biometrics and other data under the Centrally-funded project for replacement of paper-based ration cards with smart cards, has already launched its exercise in Ambala, Gharaunda (Karnal), Sonepat and Sirsa blocks of the state. It is collecting composite biometrics for fingerprint, face and iris recognition and 'know your resident+' (KYR+) information for the "state database" to be created by information technology department of the Haryana government.

The department has collaborated with the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and will share the biometrics data with it. Though there are 54 lakh eligible below poverty line (BPL) and above poverty line (APL) families under the public distribution system, the department plans to cover the state’s entire population over the next 20 months.

"Of the 400 villages in the four blocks where the work was started on pilot basis, we have already covered about 45 villages so far. The data collection camps will also be held in all other blocks in the state later," financial commissioner and principal secretary, food and supplies, Navraj Sandhu said.

Similarly, the census department has also prepared the roadmap for collecting its own KYR+ data and biometrics for fingerprint, face and iris recognition of the citizens in the second stage of the National Population Register exercise of Census 2011.

"Once the digitalisation of data collected during the enumeration exercise is complete in about three months, the data collection work will be carried out through the state machinery led by the deputy commissioners in the districts. The data will be properly validated by inviting objections," census deputy director VK Babbar said.

In the KYR+ data, it has decided to gather details of passport, permanent account number, ration card (BPL/APL), NREGA job card, driving licence and electoral photo identity card of all residents above five years of age.

"The state government has been requested to suggest three more data fields as per its requirement, but there has been no response so far. The data will be shared with UIDAI as per the agreement between RGI and UIDAI for issuance of 12-digit UID number (Aadhaar)," the official said.

Surprisingly, the food and supplies department data forms have almost similar fields. When contacted, Navraj Sandhu said that her department was going to collect biometrics data anyway under the project for smart card delivery system for foodgrains under PDS.

"However, the government decided to link it with UID and YKR+ data collection work," she said, refusing to comment on identical exercise to be undertaken by the census department.

UIDAI deputy director general, northern states, Keshni Anand Arora said that the authority had nothing to do with this.

"UIDAI has adopted the multi-registrar model for issuing Aadhaar numbers. Each person will have only one unique number. Once someone gets the UID number, there is no need for registration with any other agency. We will pay the registrars only for the registrations done through them. If some agencies are still collecting data, it is probably for their own use," she said.

Though the state government is aware of duplication at the cost of public money, there has no effort to avoid repetition and ensure coordination between the two agencies.

"There have been informal discussions but nothing has been done to avoid it," a senior official said, requesting anonymity. However, FCPS, information technology, YS Malik said that the state government decided to gather KYR+ data through its own food and supplies department because the census data was getting delayed and it was not sure whether it would be made available to them or not. Efforts were made to contact the chief secretary, but she was not available.

First Published: Jul 29, 2011 11:38 IST