Nilekani, PC will share ID card cake

PM decrees each would collect data of 60 cr people

In a bid to strike a compromise in the ‘turf war’ between Union home ministry and the Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday allowed both to capture biometric details of half each of the country’s population of 120 crore.

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The prime minister, who chaired the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI, ordered that the Authority would continue its enrolment by capturing the biometric details of an additional 40 crore people in 16 states in addition to the currently mandated 20 crore.

At the same time, the meeting also decided that the Registrar General of India (RGI) under the Home Minister tasked with preparing the National Population Register (NPR), will capture the biometric details of citizens in the rest of the States covering another 60 crore where the UIDAI is not collecting the data. Both have to complete the enrolment exercise by June 2013 and share data among themselves.

This means, in 16 states the UIDAI, where it is already working to enrol the people by capturing biometric details, can continue its task to cover 40 crore people. The UIDAI which was mandated to enrol 20 crore by 2012 March-end, has already completed enrolment of 17 crore people in 16 states. In rest of the States, the RGI will do enrolment by capturing the biometric details.

Interestingly, the RGI, which is preparing NPR and given the mandate to issue the chip-embedded multi-purpose citizenship card, will also set up its camp in the entire country even where the UIDAI is engaged in its exercise. However, as per Home Minister P Chidambaram: “Wherever the people have got the Aadhaar number or enrolled themselves in UIDAI, they need not give biometric details although they have to give other details.”

The UIDAI collects details pertaining to five points such as address, age, etc. The NPR gathers answers to 15 points including those raised by UIDAI. However, for the people covered by the RGI, it is mandatory to acquire the citizenship card. The UIDAI is optional for any resident. But the citizenship card will have Aadhaar number generated by UIDAI.

The unanswered question is why both RGI and UIDAI are duplicating work of collecting the biometric details.

Though Chidambaram did admit that some duplication would indeed happen, he said it would be minimal and would not burden the exchequer. As regard the issue of expenditure, the panel has referred the matter to the Expend­iture Finance Committee.

As per the government sources, the UIDAI enrolment per person is expected to cost Rs 50 while for  RGI enrolment would come for just Rs 28. The Finance Ministry is likely to look into the costs.
On the enrolment method being adopted by UIDAI, such as introducers being required for acquiringan Aadhar number, Nilekani said his organisation would revisit entire exercise and ensure that nothing would be amiss in it.

The Cabinet committee has cleared an additional Rs 5,791 crore for the UIDAI after its chief Nilekani assured that the security concerns raised by the Home Ministry would be addressed.

The dispute between the UIDAI and the ministry rose after the latter took up its concerns over the authenticity of UIDAI enrolment procedure and the fear that it could lead illegal residents to claim citizenship.

The dispute had held up the implementation of the UID project which is meant to plug the loopholes in the delivery of subsidies.

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