According to government officials, the PM set the deadline at a high-level meeting chaired by him in the first week of September. The target was reiterated in the minutes of the meeting circulated to all the concerned departments. Directions have also been issued to the Registrar General of India to ensure enrolment in the concerned districts.
The current Aadhaar enrolment is about 68 crore, which means over 50 crore people will have to be brought under its ambit within the next eight months. Last month, the union cabinet set a target of 100 crore enrolment under Aadhaar by the end of next year. However, Modi’s direction shows his keenness to ensure complete coverage much sooner.
Sources linked this push to the number of schemes and initiatives that the NDA government is basing on Aadhaar. While the PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana is dependent on Aadhaar — wherein the beneficiaries can open their bank accounts using their 12-digit numbers and those who don’t have Aadhaar will first be enrolled under it by banks — the PMO has also directed that passports be linked to Aadhaar data.
The PM has also directed the Home Ministry to enrol prisoners across the country under the project. Aadhaar-based biometric attendance systems have been introduced for all central government employees as well. This is also an indication of the Modi government’s interest in taking forward the UPA’s ambitious Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) scheme that is based on Aadhaar. Key government schemes like MGNREGS, pensions, scholarships, Public Distribution System and LPG have also been linked to the 12-digit number.
According to officials, while the UIDAI is ready in terms of its processing capabilities, ground level issues could be a matter of concern in meeting the target. “Enrolment in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar is very low — only 26 per cent and 16 per cent of the population respectively. Once it picks up in both these states, meeting the target would become easier,” said an official.
In UP, officials said, the state government is not active on this count, which is proving to be a huge constraint. In Bihar, state registrars will soon become active, thus speeding up the process. Banks across the country will also have to come on board and enrol people more proactively.
Officials also pointed out that with more schemes being linked to Aadhaar, the demand for enrolment would increase — both at the individual as well as government level.