Battle between UIDAI and home ministry ends

Data of people covered by the Unique Identification Authority of India will be used for the National Population Register

Published: Monday 30 January 2012

The turf war between the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) headed by Nandan Nilekani and the Union home ministry, which is creating the National Population Register, over collecting biometric data of Indian citizens has finally ended. On January 27, the Cabinet Committee on UIDAI allowed both UIDAI and the home ministry to go ahead with biometric data collection (iris scan and fingerprints) simultaneously. 

The committee after detailed deliberations noted that the purposes of the UIDAI and the National Population Register (NPR) are different. So, they have allowed both the NPR and UIDAI to carry on with their with enrollment simultaneously, with provisions to eliminate information overlap.

NPR issues resident identity (smart) cards
  On January 21, Union home minister P Chidambaram launched distribution of resident identity (smart) cards (RIC), a smart card with 64 KB micro processor chip at a function in Porthrapur village in Port Blair. The present lot of smart cards would be distributed to 256,000 people in the coastal region of the country.

The cards have been prepared by the National Population Register, a data that was created during the Census operations of 2011, by the Registrar General and the Census Commissioner of India. The register would have the data of every person enumerated during the Census operations, irrespective of age. It would also have the biometric data of every person of age 15 years and above.

At present, the home ministry has created NPR for coastal areas of 9 maritime states and 4 Union Territoriess. These include Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa. The data is meant to strengthen security along the coastline of the country. The approved cost of the scheme is Rs 216.31 crore. Under the project, NPR officials collected demographic data of 12 million persons and biometrics of 7.5 million persons in 3,331 coastal villages. Till January 20 this year, 500,000 identity cards have been issued.
No overlap

In case a person indicates that he/she is already enrolled by UIDAI, his/her biometric data will not be collected by NPR officials. Instead, the Aadhar number will be recorded in the population register and biometric data will be sourced from UIDAI.

While the UIDAI has been mandated to issue unique identification numbers called Aadhaar numbers to all the residents of India by collecting their biometric data, the Ministry of Home Affairs wants to collect biometrics of every citizen by creating a database called NPR for the country’s security.

The Cabinet committee stated that in states where UIDAI has made good progress and the state or the Union Territory government has given commitments for Aadhaar enrollments and is planning to integrate Aadhaar with various services like the public distribution system, Aadhaar enrollments through registrars other than those with the Registrar General of India should carry on in full swing. However, NPR enrollment can continue as envisaged, the committee said.
The committee has also formalised some modalities for the roll out of Aadhaar and NPR. Besides, an Inter-Ministerial Coordination Committee (IMCC), already constituted by the Union home ministry, will work out a detailed protocol to ensure that both the efforts are implemented smoothly.

Go ahead for phase III of Aadhar

The Cabinet committee allowed UIDAI to go ahead with its phase-III enrollments, which means collecting data of an additional 40 crore residents, beyond the 20 crore already recommended. An estimated Rs 8,814.75 crore is likely to be spent in phase-III. This is in addition to earlier Rs 3,023.01 crore, which was given to UIDAI to issue 20 crore Aadhaar numbers through multiple registrars up to March 2012. The costs included printing and delivery of Aadhaar letters, creation of infrastructure and technology, storage and maintenance of data.

The outlay of Rs 8,814.75 crore has been approved to meet expenditure of UIDAI up to March 2017. It includes Rs 2,412.67 crore as recurring expenditure on IT operations and recurring establishment cost and Rs 6,402.08 crore for non-recurring project-related expenditure.

R S Sharma, director general and director mission of UIDAI, told Down To Earth that around 17 crore people have been enrolled through various registrars appointed by UIDAI and 11.90 crore Aadhaar numbers have been generated till now.


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