The ministry of information technology (IT) and communications is set to take charge of Aadhaar, the ambitious national citizen identification project.
Under the Unique Identification Authority of India, it was with the Planning Commission in the previous government. After the commission’s revamp, the project has to be shifted.
“Since Aadhaar has many links with technology and is expected to play a bigger role in the government’s plan of ‘Digital India’, the ministry of IT and communications has started consultations with other ministries to move Aadhaar under its domain,” a senior government official told Business Standard.
The ministry, under Ravi Shankar Prasad, would soon prepare a Cabinet note for bringing Aadhaar under its administrative jurisdiction, the official added.
About 745.6 million people, or 61 per cent of the population, have been allotted Aadhaar numbers. The government’s target is to enrol everyone for the scheme by June. In 15 states, the percentage of enrolment is over 90 per cent. And, 140 million bank accounts have been linked with Aadhaar numbers.
Aadhaar is also being used to monitor attendance of government officials and as a proof of identity for availing government and private services. The government plans to link it with driving licences. It has already been linked with passports, mobile SIM cards, provident account funds and the Digital India project.
“Currently, all forms related to these services ask for an Aadhaar number as an optional field. It will soon become a mandatory one, after the services are fully linked,” the official said.
The Cabinet approved a modified version of cash transfers for cooking gas subsidy last October, to begin in 54 districts and spread to the rest of the country this year.
The government is also working on a project to link voter identity cards to biometric Aadhaar identification numbers. Around three million security personnel will have access to instant voting. E-ballot services for security personnel would start after linking their voter ID cards with Aadhaar numbers.
E-ballot will replace the postal ballot system, through which ballot papers are mailed to defence personnel and the votes cast are collected by India Post. Recently, the Supreme Court directed the government to enable e-voting for non-resident Indians (NRIs) within eight weeks. There are 10-11 million NRIs across the world.
The Election Commission was expected to soon launch a pilot project to link voter ID cards and Aadhaar numbers for common citizens, sources said. The project, aimed at eliminating bogus voters, will eventually be rolled out nationally.