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Now, Aadhaar faces identity crisis

P M Raghunandan, Bangalore, Sept 25, 2013, DHNS:

Post-SC direction, State may defer plans to hasten enrolment

futile exercise? A citizen gives her iris image as part of Aadhaar enrolment in Bangalore on Wednesday. dh Photo

The Centre for e-governance of the State government is likely to defer its plans to scale up Aadhaar enrolment in the State, following the Supreme Court (SC) direction not to make unique identity (UID) numbers mandatory for citizens to get government services, including various subsidy schemes.

With the oil ministry’s recent decision to extend Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme for LPG refill supply to 19 more districts, the Centre for e-governance had drawn up an elaborate plan to ramp up enrolment across the State. But the SC direction has forced it to re-consider going ahead with the plan, official sources who refused to be quoted said.

The plan to speed up the process includes opening additional enrolment centres in both urban and rural areas and tying up with oil marketing companies to start Aadhaar enrolment at local LPG distribution agencies. It was anticipated that there will be a rush of people to enrol themselves as the oil ministry had announced to make Aadhaar-based DBT scheme mandatory for citizens to get subsidised LPG refill from March, 2014, in a total of 22 districts, including Tumkur, Mysore and Dharwad, where it has been launched on a pilot basis, the official said.

The Centre for e-governance, which is the nodal agency for the enrolment, has so far covered 58 per cent of the State’s 6.1 crore population. The coverage is poor in eight districts, with less than 40 per cent coverage. For instance, it is only 26 per cent in Hassan, 28 per cent in Shimoga, 33 per cent in Mandya and 34 per cent in Chamarajanagar. The average UID generation is 47 per cent in the State.

Of the 30 districts, people in 22 districts are being covered by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) and the National Population Registrar (NPR) is enrolling citizens in the remaining eight districts – Bangalore Rural, Chikkaballapur, Uttara Kannada, Davangere, Udupi, Haveri, Gadag and Kodagu.

Turnout declined


Already, officials said, turn out of people at the enrolment centres has declined in most places, including Bangalore. It is feared that the government may end up losing money in merely keeping the centres open and without making much progress in the enrolment.

The task of enrolment has been outsourced to about 18 different private firms in the State at a total cost of about Rs 140 crore. Private firms are charging the government Rs 26 per enrolment.

Officials said many of these firms were deliberately delaying the enrolment process. Some of them have given sub-contract to smaller firms. These firms may further slow down the process in view of the court direction, sources said.

A similar situation had cropped in 2011 when the Centre was in two minds on whether to continue with Aadhaar or not in view of the NPR also collecting bio-metric data of citizens. The Aadhaar enrolment was suspended for more than a year due to this reason. It was commenced again in December last year.

When contacted, D S Ravindran, chief executive officer of the Centre of e-governance, only said that the enrolment will continue and that he has not received any order from the government.


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