The first set of identity numbers as per the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will be issued in February 2011.

Extensive consultations with various stake holders-Union& State governments,public sector units, industry and civil society organisations- have already been held. Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Union territory of Andaman and Nicobar have been signed and more states have expressed their interest in having similarMoUs.“ The pilot projects will begin by August this year and first issue of the identity numbers may happen before February next year", said Deputy Director of UIDAI B.B Nanawati here on Monday.He was speaking at a Unique Identity workshop, organised by the French Embassy along with Smart Card Forum of India(SCAFI), and prominent French companies in the smart card industry.

Mr. Nanawati said that the residents from any part of the country can be the first beneficiaries of the project. “We have identified all the components of the project. Some are in their advanced stages. The different tracks in the field of application, data centre, hardware and registrar has to be converged together,” he said. On the question of aspects of national security, Mr Nanawati said that high level authentication at various levels might be linked with the security requirements. He rejected the fears of data misuse by saying that the authority will not share its collected data with any agency. Sharing the country’s expectations from the project, he said that non-identity of the poor was the highest barrier which prevents them from accessing benefits and services provided by the government.

No smart cards from UIDAI

Mr. Nanawati also made it clear that the identification authority as of now has no plans to issue any sort of smart cards or magnetic cards to the citizens.

Deputy Director of UIDAI, K.Ganga said that the feedback received from the civil society was the basis for setting the standards of UIDAI. “We spoke to people who are homeless, those below poverty line, migrant workers and their representatives. We will take their views and make sure that awareness is created at the grassroot level,” she said.

French Ambassador to India Jerome Bonnafont said that the link between unique identification and social inclusion was well established. Terming it as a challenge to cover 1.15 billion of Indian population under the project, Mr.Bonnafont said that there should be firewalls to protect the right of privacy of citizens.

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