Despite hitting some roadblocks in issuing Aadhaar numbers, the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) said it will be ready to implement the schemes announced by the Prime Minister by January.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has set January 1 as a deadline to roll out direct cash transfer through public distribution system (PDS) in 51 districts. The cash transfer will be linked to the Aadhaar number. The remaining parts of the country will follow during the next year.

While there are some concerns about UIDAI’s preparedness in executing the direct cash transfer scheme, senior officials at UIDAI dismiss these worries. “Enrolment is going on.

It is just the despatch part and within a month we will start that. There are total of 24 crore enrolments, out of which 22 crore have been already sent and soon we will start despatching rest two crore backlog numbers,” Kumar Alok, Deputy Director-General (Administration, Logistics and Contact centres), UIDAI, told Business Line.

Printing issues

The Authority had stopped despatching the enrolled numbers because of printing issues from India Post and some cases of duplication of numbers. However, Alok said the issue has been resolved now and the backlog of two crore Aadhaar numbers will get despatched in December.

UIDAI has already initiated pilot projects in Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. The Authority is experimenting with different applications in these pilot projects.

For instance, in Andhra Pradesh (East Godavari district and Hyderabad), trials are being for PDS by the State Food Department. Similarly, Aadhaar numbers are being used as identity for giving mobile connection by Vodafone, LPG with IOC in Mysore and National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), old age pension payment in all those 51 districts announced by the Finance Ministry. There are 24 districts where 70 per cent of the population are already enrolled with Aadhaar and services will follow after that. “However, the State Governments also have to start work with their local partners for a full-fledged distribution of services,” Kumar said.

Cost-cutting steps

After Finance Ministry’s wanted UIDAI to cut costs in despatching the Aadhaar numbers, the Authority has decided to send the numbers now collectively to an entire family (one envelope for a whole family). It used to send numbers separately to individuals even if they were residing in the same house. “Registrar General of India (RGI) plus our team will start enrolling the numbers soon,” he said.

“The expenditure has been already reduced. The Finance Ministry has allotted Rs 770 crore for all despatches in family mode, just like what is National Population Registrar (NPR) is doing,” Alok said.

However, there are many questions on whether the world’s largest project worth Rs 8,814 crore, will be a success or not. When asked, Alok said there are always raised questions against such major projects in the world, but the Authority is confident of achieving its target.

The Finance Ministry in October 2011 had approved Rs 8,814.75 crore for this project, to enrol 1.2 billion people with Aadhaar numbers. As of October, the Authority has spent Rs 2,093.07 crore on various tenders and despatching the numbers.

ronendrasingh.s@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 27, 2012)
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