Tussle ends, Nilekani to address Home Ministry's concerns

In a bid to end the turf war between the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which comes under the Planning Commission, and the Home Ministry's National Population Register (NPR), a Cabinet Committee has worked out a compromise that will result in the biometric data of all residents being captured by June 2013.

The UIDAI has been given permission — and finances to the tune of an additional 5,791 crore — to enrol another 40 crore people in 16 States under its Aadhaar scheme. The NPR will accept the biometric data collected by the UIDAI in those States and continue to collect its own data through the Registrar-General of India in the remaining States.

In return, UIDAI Chairman Nandan Nilekani has promised to address the Home Ministry's security concerns through a full review of the UIDAI processes over the next two months to ensure that its data collection meets the NPR's requirements.

“We take [the security concerns] very seriously. What we have promised the Cabinet is that before we go into the next phase of 40 crores, for the next six to eight weeks, we'll do a complete refresh of the entire strategy, see what processes need to be changed, what investigations need to be done,” Mr. Nilekani said, speaking to journalists along with Home Minister P. Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. “We'll resume only in April. I'm very grateful for Mr. Chidambaram's support on that.”

The UIDAI had been mandated to enrol 20 crore people by March 2012. While the UIDAI is a voluntary scheme, the NPR is mandatory for all residents. What this means is that if a resident has enrolled himself with the UIDAI and has had his fingerprints and iris scanned, he can merely give his Aadhaar number to the NPR registrars rather than submitting himself to biometric data collection twice.

Mr. Chidambaram said the duplication between the two agencies would be not be more than 5 per cent, reducing the expenditure on biometric data collection. In case of “discrepancies between UIDAI data and NPR data, NPR will prevail.”

More In: National | News