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Aadhar likely to cover entire country

January 18, 2012 19:02 IST

UIDMontek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the Planning Commission, told Business Standard, "We are taking a note to the Cabinet, proposing that the Unique Identification programme is a very important one.

"It should be allowed to continue and extend as quickly as possible to the whole country. . .obviously, I hope that they (Cabinet) will take it up very quickly."

Officials say the Cabinet may take a decision on this matter very soon, in a matter of days.

IDENTITY ISSUE
Uncertainty had shrouded the UIDAI project; clarity seems to be emerging
Cause of haze
* Questions raised by finance ministry, home ministry and Planning Commission on UIDAI work
* Duplication in UID and National Population Register records, including biometric ones
* Home ministry not keen to accept Aadhar records for NPR
* Bill for statutory status to UIDAI shot down
Clearing winds
* Planning Commission proposes extension of UID to whole country
* Mandate is to enrol 200 million people by March 2012; enrolment set to touch 200 million by January-end
* Govt may extend financial support to UID in budget

The Unique Identification Authority of India was created in January 2009 and has been mandated to register 200 million people for providing a unique identification number, the 'Aadhar', by March 2012.

The authority is set to cross the target by the end of this month, with a million enrolments every day. It has already allotted 116.3 million Aadhar numbers.

UIDAI can't go beyond the 200-million number until it gets permission from the government.

In the backdrop of questions raised by the home ministry, finance ministry and the Commission over various issues, including security of data, funding, functioning and duplication of work with the National Population Register project, the UIDAI is looking for a clear direction from the government to continue its work.

The project is seen as a critical one, to provide each citizen an identification card ensuring online verification, and work as a base for running various government programmes, involving disbursement of money to beneficiaries.

The home ministry has expressed reservations on accepting Aadhar verifications in the wake of the ongoing NPR creation. Questions have also been raised on duplication in identification work, as both are taking biometric records of people.

The recent rejection by Parliament's standing committee on finance of The National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, which sought to provide statutory status to the UIDAI, has added to the problems in extending the ambit of the project.

The panel cited concerns about the scheme, particularly the contradictions and ambiguities within the government on its implementation, as well as other implications, for not accepting the Bill in the present form. Various arms of the government, however, including the law ministry and also the Planning Commission, under which UIDAI is functioning, had stated before the panel that the Authority had been created through an executive order and it could continue to function like that till it got statutory status.

Commission officials said once the government decided on extending the programme to cover all Indians, the procedural issues between UID and NPR would easily be resolved.

They said an option was to keep the NPR process limited to providing a card similar to the voter identification one and to let UIDAI handle biometric record keeping and online verification, based on Aadhar numbers.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee is also likely to extend financial support to the UID project in the 2012-13 budget and outline a schedule for its involvement in the government's subsidy disbursal and other social sector schemes.

Santosh Tiwari in New Delhi
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