The recent report submitted by the parliamentary standing committee on finance, headed by BJP’s Yashwant Sinha, pointing that the the National Identification Authority of India Bill, 2010, lacks clarity on many issues besides raising other objections, may prove as a stumbling block for the effective implementation of many of the government schemes, sponsored by the state government, central government and other agencies, according to bureaucrats.
Having already enrolled over 120 million citizens, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) project named Aaadhar is expected to enroll 200 million citizens by January 2012. According to bureaucrats, various state governments were keen to link their schemes with Aadhaar numbers. State governments of Himachal Pradesh, Tripura and some more states have taken a decision to officially recognise Aadhaar numbers being allotted to residents as a valid document for establishing proof of identity (POI) as well as proof of address (POA) for various government services being offered to them.
Also, three oil companies, namely Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum Corporation and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, have advised their respective LPG distributors to include the letter of issue of Aadhaar numbers with photograph and address issued by UIDAI as proof of identity and address for release of new LPG connections. Further, RBI has instructed that banks can rely exclusively on the Aadhaar letter as a complete KYC (know your customer) document for opening of an account.
Earlier, other than feeding the biometrics of residents into the UID server, Punjab Food and Civil Supplies department — the nodal agency implementing the scheme — decided to put details of ration cards and LPG connections in mandatory information list in the know your resident (KYR) form, making Punjab’s own version — KYR+.
Speaking to Business Standard, one of the officials associated with the scheme mentioned that Aadhaar numbers are one of the greatest imports for social and economic inclusion in the country. The system will cut down fraud and corruption in every area of administration.
A senior bureaucrat said, “When Aadhaar is half way through, it is unfortunate that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is in the process of launching national population register (NPR) on the same lines. It is expected that Aadhaar will be completed by December 2014, while it is difficult to comment about the NPR compilation. It will be a complete duplication of work, so its time the MHA reconsiders its proposal.”
Senior officials said UIDAI people had not only worked very hard but had also taken all possible precautions regarding data security. Both demographic and biometric data, they said, were collected and its methods of collecting data were approved by the Demographics Standard and Verification Procedure Committee.
It is pertinent to mention here that there have been differences in the committee over key issues regarding the project. One of the concerns include the fact that Aadhaar gives just proof of residence and not of citizenship. There are also concerns about the privacy of data collected under the project.
Also, UIDAI, the nodal agency currently overseeing Aadhaar, has been facing opposition from the Union home ministry, under which NPR is being created.
NPR follows the same biometric standards as Aadhaar, and the two projects were supposed to share data with each other. However, the home ministry has pointed out that it does not "trust" the UIDAI data and intends to collect its own biometrics.
Bureaucrats are of the view that the Bill should be discussed and some changes may be introduced rather than scrapping UIDAI project totally.