The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has given the approval for Phase 5 of the Unique Identification (UID) scheme to undertake enrolments in the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand. The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been given the target of generating 100 crore Aadhaars by the end of 2015. This will also include UID numbers issued for enrolments done under the National Population Register process in 12 States and Union Territories allocated to UIDAI.
UIDAI has also been asked to submit proposals regarding Aadhaar Sampark Kendra (Enquiry Centre/Customer Service Centre), Information, Education and Communication Campaigns, Document Management System and Rent Rates and Taxes, along with a revised cost estimate to the Expenditure Finance Committee.
Phase 4 of UID (Aadhaar card) scheme had been approved by the government in May 2013 and Rs 3436.16 crore had been earmarked for it.
Aadhaar numbers: Till January 16, 2014 UIDAI had issued 56 crore Aadhaar numbers. At the time it had claimed to be generating 13-14 lakh Aadhaar number everyday and was set to complete its mandate of covering 60 crore population. Before the start of Phase 5 over 67.38 crore Aadhaar numbers have been issued, and a total of Rs 4906 crore (as of August 31, 2014) has been spent on this scheme till date.
UIDAI started issuing Aadhaar numbers in September 2010 and managed to generate 25 crore numbers by December 2012 at an average of one crore numbers per month. During 2013, UIDAI issued a total of 29.1 crore Aadhaar numbers at an average of over 2.4 crore per month.
Administrative stumbling blocks
However, the impressive number of Aadhaars issued has been overshadowed due to administrative incompetence. Duplication of Aadhaar cards and other errors have led to a huge number of Aadhaar numbers being rejected and the credibility of the UIDAI being questioned.
UIDAI itself rejected Aadhaar numbers of close to 30 lakh people in Orissa due to errors in enrollment data, earlier this year. Also, last year there were several claims of Aadhaar cards issued with incorrect photos, and in some cases the photos weren’t even of humans. In 2012, the Indian Postal Department rejected around 50,000 Aadhaar cards issued in Hyderabad citing non-existing addresses.
Security and Legal issues
Several security and legal question marks have also been brought up against UIDAI. This year in June, Malayala Manorama reported that collection of Aadhaar information in Kerala had been handed over to a Kerala Government-owned IT company called Keltron.
Also, it emerged that UIDAI does not have any procedure in place to remove Aadhaar data from its database. This came to light after the Supreme Court ruled that Aadhaar card is not mandatory for social services. However, it must be noted here that the same SC ruling also clearly stated that UIDAI cannot share Aadhaar details of any individual with government agencies without getting consent from the person for the same. (Read more about how this affected the financial sector and government schemes for which Aadhaar was mandatory here.)