The Department of Information Technology has called a meeting of state government secretaries this week for a status check on Aadhaar.
The meeting is significant because of the question marks on the continuation of the scheme under the NDA government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week scrapped the cabinet committee on Unique Identification Authority of India which issues Aadhaar numbers.
The scheme to provide a biometric identification number to all residents of India was criticised by several BJP leaders in the run-up to the elections, who alleged it provided an easy way for foreign migrants to get registered.
The meeting with the secretaries will throw up inputs on whether the government needs to go ahead with the Bill giving itself the right to ask for biometric and other personal details of all Indians. It will also provide a status check on states that have rolled out the scheme aggressively.
As per UIDAI records, 630 million Indians have already been issued Aadhaar cards.
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DeIT Secretary R S Sharma told The Indian Express that it was for the political executive to provide a direction on how Aadhaar and its twin project, the National Population Register, will move.
“We have called a meeting of those states where the extent of rollout of these cards has almost been completed, to decide their future course of action,” Sharma said. Sharma, who was until recently chief secretary of Jharkhand, said even that poor state had managed to largely complete the project.
Continuing the project would mean fresh funding for FY 15 by the finance ministry. The sum the government sets aside in the union budget will provide an indication of the project’s future.
It will, for instance, decide whether states would be able to retain the workforce contracted to complete the project. Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka are among the states that have done well on the scheme.
The project was meant to make programmes like the public distribution system efficient. It can potentially ensure that government benefits reach the right person, as Aadhaar numbers of subscribers can be matched with the rolls maintained by departments for verification.