Officials targeting 70 % of Tamil Nadu population by September

The process of Aadhaar number generation and the bio-metric data enrolment for the National Population Registry (NPR) in the State is set for a push in the three months ahead, as officials hope to reach 70 per cent coverage by September.

At present, the Aadhaar number generation for the state stood pegged at around 30 per cent of the targeted population number in the NPR, the demographic data bank created by the Census Department in 2010. The coverage of the bio-metric enrolment (photograph, iris and fingerprint scan) through the camps currently stood at around 52 per cent mark.

To generate an Aadhaar number, operators certified by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will have to match the demographic data in the NPR with the biometric scans taken at camps by contracted third-party vendors and upload the "packet" to government servers.

The coverage in the districts of Tiruchi, Pudukottai, Ariyalur, Cuddalore, Karur and Perambalur has been significantly more. This is mainly because two rounds of coverage have been done. However, other districts — Chennai, Coimbatore, Nilgiris, Thiruvallur, Sivaganga, Kancheepuram and Nammakal — have poor numbers to show. Chennai so far has had just around four per cent coverage.

In Tiruchi, Pudukottai and Ariyalur, which are expected to feature in the second phase of the rollout of the direct transfer of benefits scheme next month, the coverage is around 70 per cent.

(Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in April, opposed the rollout of the scheme in the districts stating that the scheme was against the spirit of federalism and decentralisation.)

Slow pace

The operations so far have not been as fast as the officials would have liked owing to a number of reasons. There has been a general lack of awareness among the public on the necessity for the Aadhaar numbers.

While the less affluent sections have been more willing to enrol themselves, fearing whether they would miss out on direct benefit of transfers for schemes like subsidised LPG in the future, the more affluent sections have generally been lackadaisical in response. To substantiate their point, the officials contrast the overwhelming reception in labour-dominated parts of Tondiarpet in north Chennai with that of Nungambakkam, where the coverage has been poor despite camps being organised for four months.

Another problem has been a shortage of UIDAI-certified operators. The agencies are unable to find enough qualified persons, who have cleared the UIDAI certification, to be able to access the government servers and generate the Aadhaar numbers.

Joint Director of Directorate of Census Operations (Tamil Nadu) M.R.V.Krishna Rao, said the coverage in Chennai district started only in December last and awareness was picking up. The BME (biometric enumeration) camps were being organised in six of the 15 zones of the city currently and would spread in the weeks to come.

Residents covered under the current drive will receive their 12 digit UID number, either through registered post at their home address or through SMS on their registered mobile phones. The actual Aadhaar cards would be issued later.

No need to despair

The current process of biometric scans and matching of demographic data for Aadhaar number generation was not final, Mr.Rao clarified.

"We are trying to cover every region in two phases. Residents should ideally get their enrolment done in the first phase. However, if they miss out, there would be a second phase of coverage at a later date in the same region. They cannot move to a nearby camp and get enrolled though."

If some residents miss out on both phases of coverage, there are still going to be options. Some time towards the end of this year, the Census Department with the State government is planning to establish fully-equipped permanent NPR centres in all zonal offices of cities and taluk offices of districts. The process of enrolment for Aadhaar is going to be an ongoing process.