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PM, not Sonia, will kick off UID project

By Renu Mittal
Last updated on: September 17, 2010 22:39 IST
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After Rahul Gandhi's focus on tribals, Manmohan Singh's spin doctors have decided that the prime minister should lend considerable weight behind the country's tribal population.

According to sources, Dr Singh will travel to Nandurbar in Maharashtra (a predominantly tribal area) on September 29 to give the first Unique Identification Number to a tribal as the government prepares to kick off the distribution of UID numbers and showcase it as an unique achievement of the government.

But what is interesting is that so far there has been no invitation to Congress president and United Progressive Alliance chief Sonia Gandhi for the function.

It is reliably learnt that the Congress is clear that such a historical project cannot be kicked off without the presence of Sonia Gandhi and there is a mo ve afoot to ensure that she is also part of the function.

It was Sonia Gandhi who kick-started the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act project and it went on to become one of the flagship programmes of UPA I. There is surprise in the party that so far Sonia Gandhi has not been listed as an invitee.

Amongst the others who will be present at the function will be the minister of state for planning Narayanswamy, Nandan Nilkeni, who heads the UID project, Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Maharashtra Chief Minister SB Chavan and other functionaries.

The ambitious project aims to provide a unique identification number to every citizen of the country above 5 years.
Each person would be given a letter with the number as well as a chip attached which would contain information like name, father's name, age address etc. It would be used for public distribution system, passport, banks, welfare schemes to avoid bogus identity of persons or duplication with the government claiming that it would save them Rs 20, 000 crore annually.

After an assurance given in Parliament that the first UID number would be given in August-September 2010, the government decided to keep its promise and the first number would be distributed before September. By 2011, the government expects to give out 60 crore UID numbers with the entire project expected to be completed within 4 to 5 years. A central processing facility has been created in Bangalore in this regard.

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Renu Mittal in New Delhi
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