Aadhaar coverage in seven districts yet to be completed, Chennai being the lowest

Households across as many as 25 districts, beginning with those in Ariyalur from next month, need to get used to paying market price for cooking gas refills with the Centre announcing the schedule of its ambitious Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG scheme in Tamil Nadu.

Under the scheme, to ensure that the subsidy reaches those for whom it is meant and prevent misuse of the cylinder, the Centre will transfer the subsidy sum to the bank account furnished by the household. What does this mean to consumers? At current prices, a household will pay Rs.930 for a cooking gas refill, while the subsidy, which is nearly Rs.550, will be credited to the bank account. For those reluctant to share bank details, it would mean end of subsidised cooking gas supplies after a grace period of three months.

The foundation of the scheme, which will also be crucial for its success, is the Aadhaar programme. Commonly used to denote the 12-digit individual identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), Aadhaar is increasingly been projected as the key for accessing government welfare schemes.

Under the DBT for LPG scheme, subsidised cooking gas consumers need to have not just Aadhaar number but also link it to their bank account besides communicating the same to the cooking gas distributor from whom they get supplies.

Unlike in many other States, where UIDAI is doing the work, the process leading to issue of Aadhaar numbers is being undertaken by the Directorate of Census Operations based on the details collected under the National Population Register.

Explaining the process, Joint Director of Census Operations and Controlling Officer M.R.V.Krishna Rao said the NPR details were collected during the Census 2011 enumeration process and the residents issued a receipt. A key component of Aadhaar is the use of biometrics – in the form of finger printing and Iris authentication.

Those seeking Aadhaar numbers are required to take the receipt and attend the camps conducted for registering biometric authentication. The camps are conducted by local bodies. Subsequently, the Aadhaar number are issued by UIDAI. Aadhaar card is not for children aged below five years.

Mr.Rao added that UIDAI had two years ago sought permission from the Centre to issue Aadhaar directly in the State. It had issued 20 lakh cards and people possessing them need not apply again now as the numbers are valid.

As per figures updated till September 3, the coverage for bio-metrics was the highest in Ariyalur at 80.42 per cent. In terms of issue of Aadhaar numbers, as on August 13, the highest is 66.42 per cent in Ariyalur. The minimum coverage required is around 70 per cent, he added. Among 7 districts that do not figure in the list – Chennai, Coimbatore, Sivaganga, Tiruppur, Tiurvallur, Tiruvannamalai and The Nilgiris – the coverage is the lowest in Chennai at 33.34 per cent.

Sources in Chennai Corporation said the programme started late in the city. There, however, are plans to increase the number of people involved in the process towards increasing the pace of work. According to Mr.Rao, issue of Aadhaar numbers under the open scheme would be closed by October. But, that would also mean opening of the permanent NPR centres where people can go and register. With regard to LPG subsidy, it will, however, be available only to those who produce Aadhaar numbers linked with bank accounts from the date of launch of scheme in their district.

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