Nilekani to have minister rank as ID Project head

 Co-chairman of Infosys Nandan Nilekani
The move to set up the UID Authority of India (UIDAI), under the aegis of the Planning Commission, is aimed at providing a unique identity to the targeted population of the flagship schemes to ensure that the benefits reach them, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said.

As Chairman of the body, Nilekani will have Cabinet minister rank and status, she said.

"The Authority shall have the responsibilities to lay down plans and policies to implement the Unique Identification Scheme (UID), shall own and operate the Unique Identification number database and be responsible for its updation and maintenance on an ongoing basis," she said.

The Authority will identify the targeted groups for various flagship programmes, she added.

Under the programme, unique identification cards would be provided to citizens by 2011. In the beginning, it will be assigned to all voters by building on current electoral roll data.

“It will work in coordination with the National Population Register of the home ministry through the Registrar General of the Census, in accordance with the Indian Citizenship Act,” the government said in a statement.

"This would not only address security related issues but is also aimed at establishing citizenship, reducing identity related frauds and also prevent leakages in different government schemes," it said.

Added Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia: "This will be a very superior card. This would really help all of us. We would start testing these on a pilot basis in a year.”
The card will help citizens avail basic government services like driving licenses, passports and voters identity cards.

The flagship schemes of the UPA include the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan, National Rural Health Mission and Bharat Nirman.

The unique identification number would ensure that any lacuna in these schemes is removed so that the benefits do not reach those they are not meant for.

The Government had earmarked Rs 100 crore in the interim Budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament on February 16 to kickstart its ambitious Unique Identification Project.

The government has been working on improving arrangements to ensure that development deliverables reach the intended beneficiaries, Mukherjee had said.

In order to do so efficiently, effectively and economically, a comprehensive system of unique identity had been worked out, he had added.

The Government also plans to set up state units of UIDAI, headed by state UID Commissioners.

Earlier, an Empowered Group of Ministers had approved setting up UIDAI with an initial core team in November 2008.

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