Direct benefit transfer schemes hang in balance

Data gathered suspectible to spying, claim petitioners against Aadhaar
Last Updated 24 September 2013, 18:45 IST

An interim order of the Supreme Court stipulating that Aadhaar is not mandatory for availing benefits of government schemes has left Mysore district administration in a fix, as it is one of the places where Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) was introduced on a pilot basis on January 1.

However, the interim order has been welcomed by individuals who were vociferous in their opposition to Aadhaar-based DBT, as the system was ‘defective’ and had ‘security concerns’.

K K Sharma, Assistant Director General of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), told Deccan Herald that his office was yet to receive guidelines regarding DBT from UIDAI. “Unless we receive some instruction regarding the scheme, DBT will continue. Official orders have not yet been received,” he said.

M B P Pandey, Assistant Director of Statistics, Mysore, said there were around six lakh registered beneficiaries receiving DBT benefits in the district. Among the beneficiaries, 5.2 lakh people are beneficiaries of transfer of LPG subsidies under Aadhaar. “The government has to take a call on the next step. The Union oil ministry is yet to give instructions about the same,” he said.

Nodal officers of oil companies in Mysore and Tumkur districts said a decision would be taken by the head offices of the companies shortly. Officials in Tumkur said the government was unlikely to drop the Aadhaar project as the Centre had already spent thousands of crores for the project and introduced it on a pilot basis in 56 districts in the country.

There are more than eight lakh beneficiaries of Aadhaar-based DBT of LPG subsidies in Mysore and Tumkur districts. The total number of beneficiaries of various schemes under Aadhaar is more than 10 lakh.

According to petitioners against Aadhaar in the Supreme Court, data gathering for Aadhaar-based transfers was susceptible to spying by US-based intelligence gathering organisations.

“UIDAI’s Central ID Repository is being created by a US firm. Following leaks by Edward Snowden on spying by the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, this is a serious lapse of security, where information of millions of Indian citizens can be easily accessed,” the source said.

Moreover, data collection for UIDAI has been outsourced to several private firms that are yet to gather data and submit the same to UIDAI. “Since there are no monitoring agencies to confirm that the data collected by these firms are destroyed after being uploaded to UIDAI servers, there are chances that the data can be misused by these firms for commercial gains,” the source added.

Predicting that the interim order of the Supreme Court will only be amplified in the final judgement, a petitioner said that the order guaranteed privacy to Indian citizens, while ensuring that they were not denied benefits for not possessing an Aadhaar card.

(Published 24 September 2013, 18:45 IST)

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