Further work likely to be done by an agency to be designated by Centre

The curtains will come down on enrolments for Aadhaar, the Central government's ambitious unique identification programme, by February 15 at all 2,245 enrolment centres across Karnataka.

A letter sent to Deputy Commissioners, in 23 districts where Aadhaar is being rolled out, by the State department of e-governance, informs them of the decision to stop enrolments, adding that “further enrolments are likely to be done by an agency to be designated by the government of India.” The letter, dated January 24, adds that this decision follows instructions from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) to stop enrolments.

Sources in the UIDAI confirmed to The Hindu that similar instructions have been communicated to all registrars and State governments across the country. The project, which crossed the 120 million mark (in terms of Aadhaar numbers generated), is expected to cross the 200 million mark by mid-February. The project, which is caught in a bitter turf war between the Home Ministry and the Union Planning Commission, had only been given permission to enrol 200 million citizens.

On Friday, the Union Cabinet decided to increase the cap to 600 million, and approved a list of States where the UIDAI could proceed with data collection. Karnataka is among the top three States in terms of numbers of enrolment, and State officials are hopeful will figure on the UIDAI list as “a lot of infrastructure has been put in place already.”

“There is a lot of uncertainty about this project, even among enrolment agencies, which is also resulting in a slow-down in number or registrations. A lot of money has been invested even at the State level,” a highly placed official told The Hindu. The Parliamentary Standing Committee had also rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill in December 2011.

The UIDAI has set February 28 as the last date for receiving data packets, which contain demographic and biometric data, and has asked registrars to work towards it. In Karnataka, enrolments are being carried out by two registrars, the department of e-governance and the India Post. Sources in the India Post confirmed that similar instructions have been communicated to them too.

The department of e-government's letter, a copy of which is available with The Hindu, also requests the Deputy Commissioners to “review and approve ramp down plans,” ensure “safety of the data and uploading by enrolment agencies” and “communicate to residents” about the decision to stop enrolments. It also asks the district offices to submit all statements of expenditure related to funds released by the Centre for e-governance for the UIDAI enrolment and publicity activities.

Till date, around 22 per cent of citizens in Karnataka have been covered, D.S. Ravindran, Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for e-governance told The Hindu. Over 133 lakh Aadhaar numbers have been issued. However, barring Mysore and Tumkur — both districts that were part of the pilot project have completed over 95 per cent enrolments — enrolments in most other districts are below 20 per cent. At 18 lakh enrolments, coverage of Bangalore city stands at a modest 21 per cent. Bidar is the only district to cross over 30 per cent in the State.

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