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Himachal pins hope on UID to weed out ‘extra’ population

The 2011 census had recorded Himachal’s population at 68.56 lakh.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh |
September 30, 2011 12:43:09 am

State has more names in ration cards than its population as detailed in Census 2011; 29 per cent already enrolled for Aadhaar

Is it under-registering of its residents in Census 2011,the migrant population or fake ration cards? Having already enrolled 29 per cent of its population under Aadhaar – the brand name of the 12-digit Unique Identification number (UID) – Himachal Pradesh hopes to end the mystery of more people being registered in ration cards than its population.

The 2011 census had recorded Himachal’s population at 68.56 lakh. However,under the public distribution scheme (PDS) there are 16.1 lakh ration card holders in the state which makes for a total population of over 74 lakh. So nearly 5.5 lakh extra people are registered under the PDS scheme,which could mean that more than one lakh fake or duplicate ration cards have been issued in the state.

The anomaly is costing the state exchequer a huge loss while providing subsidy on foodgrains. In 2010-11,the government spent Rs 130 crore on food subsidy under which a monthly quota of three types of pulses,edible oil and salt is provided at reduced rates. For 2011-12,the budgetary allocation is Rs 100 crore.

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“The reconciliation of figures may finally be possible after the biometric and personal details of state’s entire population is captured,” said Rajneesh Kumar,Himachal Director (Information Technology),the nodal agency for implementing the UID scheme in the state.

Though it was also the first state in the region comprising Punjab,Haryana,Chandigarh and Jammu & Kashmir to start the UID enrollments in January this year,Himachal’s difficult terrain,few enrollment agencies and publicity problems made the exercise a daunting task. The state’s effort was rewarded by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI),Regional Office,Chandigarh,on Thursday while observing the first anniversary of Aadhaar.

“In nine months,Himachal has enrolled 19.5 lakh people accounting for 29 per cent of its population. By October,at least two districts – Una (population of 5.2 lakh) and Hamirpur (4.4 lakh) – will complete the enrollment process. Now enrollments are on in all districts after the exercise also began in Sirmaur six days back,” Kumar added

The state has this year also weeded out dead and fake pensioners. “We were disbursing pension to 96,000 people till last year. In January this year,we made it mandatory for those withdrawing state pension to produce live certificates. We discovered that some 6,000 pensioners did not exist. Biometric ID can result in huge savings for state governments while discharging the welfare schemes,” Kumar,who also holds the charge of special secretary (finance),said.

According to the UIDAI,the states are now linking their various schemes to Aadhaar. “While Himachal and Punjab have linked it to PDS and Haryana to smart cards,the Greater Mohali Area Development Authority (GMADA) of Punjab has allowed the UID card as one of the proofs for its residential plots scheme. Chandigarh administration too has now integrated it with house allotment to below poverty line families. Eventually,the UID number would emerge as a single key to various welfare and other schemes of a state,” Keshni Anand Arora,DDG of Regional office,Chandigarh,said.

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