Tamil Nadu was relatively unenthusiastic when the Aadhaar programme, as designed by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), was launched nearly four years ago. Today, it is well ahead of many other States in enrolment under the National Population Register (NPR) scheme.

Going by data provided by the office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, Tamil Nadu stands first in recording the biometric details of the highest number of people (aged above five years) as part of the NPR enrolment.

The procedures prescribed for enrolment under the UIDAI’s programme and the NPR scheme are identical — capturing of iris, 10 fingerprints and visual image.

With the Aadhaar programme failing to find favour in the State, there was not much enrolment. In Tamil Nadu, 20 lakh persons were covered under the UIDAI’s scheme (which was abandoned following a Union government decision about one and a half years ago), according to M.R. V. Krishna Rao, joint director at the Chennai Office of Census Operations.

The NPR enrolment began in Tamil Nadu in June 2011 in a phased manner. Yet, there are areas that have not yet been brought under the exercise. For instance, in the old limits of Chennai Corporation, 15 wards are yet to be covered. Authorities, however, are planning to wind up the enrolment throughout the State by December. Subsequently, there are plans to set up permanent enrolment centres.

Of the targeted 6.74 crore population, 4.28 crore were covered as on September 30. Of this, Aadhaar numbers were generated by the UIDAI for 2.88 crore. Information available with officials of the revenue department, which coordinates with the Census department to facilitate enrolment, indicates that ‘Aadhaar’ letters have been dispatched to 2.38 crore people by the UIDAI through the postal department.

Not an easy process

Notwithstanding the elaborate arrangements made, those who go to camps for enrolment face hardship. There are long queues. Invariably, one has to visit the camp at least twice — first, to get a token and then to get the biometric details captured. There have been reports of anxious persons going to the camp sites two hours before the scheduled time for commencement of enrolment, which is 9 a.m.

Once a resident gets in, it takes 15-20 minutes to complete the process. As the operations are done on the basis of ‘first come first served’, senior citizens find it extremely difficult to wait. The authorities should consider having separate counters, says Devaki, a resident of Velachery.

Mr Rao points out that in places surrounding Tambaram, councillors and public-spirited persons volunteer to help senior citizens.

While ruling out the possibility of having exclusive enrolment for a group of 30 or more residents in an apartment complex, he says his office would consider the request from a group of senior citizen homes, located near each other, or those whose movement is restricted due to bad health.

Another issue is the production of acknowledgement slips, issued in June-July 2010 during the Houselisting and Housing Census, as a pre-requisite to enrolment. For those who have misplaced the slips, the process becomes longer and more cumbersome. They have to get in touch with local officials to know the details contained in the slips.

A senior Corporation official says those who do not have the slips can provide the details of their neighbours. Using them, the relevant details can be traced. Residents who were not covered three years ago can take NPR Household Schedule forms from the respective offices of the local body and provide their biographic details.

However, authorities should consider providing the data collected through the NPR Household Schedule online, just as draft and final electoral rolls are, he says.

But, officials say the data collected through the NPR exercise is more comprehensive compared to that available in the electoral rolls and for security reasons it is not made available online.