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Centre’s directive on Aadhaar takes officials by surprise

Deepa Kurup
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‘DBT scheme for LPG will start on December 1’

The Central government directive that the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme for LPG will start in Bangalore by December 1, has taken both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the State government — the official registrar for Aadhaar in Karnataka — by surprise. Mainly because as of the end of this week 56.5 lakh citizens have been enrolled, accounting for less than 59 per cent of the total population in the city.

Of the people who have enrolled only about 80 per cent have received their Aadhaar numbers, officials concede. Given these numbers, the officials say that the DBT scheme is unlikely to take off on December 1.

Grace period

The government’s two-month “grace period”, before those without Aadhaar are denied the subsidy, is also a “very ambitious deadline”, officials say.

The UIDAI itself has set March 31, 2014, as the deadline for completing enrolments and issuing Aadhaar numbers for Bangalore Urban. “We are unlikely to finish Bangalore before March-end. Enrolments have picked pace but processing each entry, allotment of numbers and dispatching are processes that take time. It cannot be rushed through,” officials say.

After the enrolment process, one also has to factor in the extra time it takes to link bank accounts to the Aadhaar number and to get this data on to the oil companies’ data base.

A senior IOC official explained that customers needn’t worry as they can buy LPG cylinders at the subsidised price until February 28.

“Even in other cities, we have made announcements and found that people rose to the occasion and we were able to update the database and link Aadhaar numbers to bank accounts at a comfortable pace. We are doing this, obviously, with the help of the State government and the banks.”

Picking up pace

He added that DBT for LPG is at 100 per cent in Tumkur (where the grace period ended last month) and is picking up pace in Mysore where the deadline is October-end.

Extra rush

In fact, on Friday and Saturday, Aadhaar enrolment centres saw an “extra rush” following the government announcement. An official from the State e-governance department said that on Saturday, 15,000 to 20,000 people turned up in centres across the city.

“There is a huge rush. Every time there is another announcement linking Aadhaar to LPG or other subsidies, we see a spike in citizen interest.” On an average, around 10,000 to 15,000 enrolments are done in Bangalore per day, and over 60,000 across the State, according to statistics provided by the UIDAI officials.

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