The Planning Commission has recommended that the unique identity (UID) programme’s beneficiaries such as public sector banks, insurance companies, state governments and welfare programmes pay for the enrollment of people since the benefits to them will outstrip the costs incurred.
The suggestion has been made in a note to the cabinet committee on UID project headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. This is one of the four ways suggested by the Plan panel to arrive at a compromise between UID and the National Population Register (NPR) of the Registrar General of India (RGI), which have been locking horns over the issue of who will collect the biometric data of residents.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) currently pays Rs 50 per enrollment to its registrars and spends another Rs 25 on dispatching the letters to residents.
Currently, UIDAI has a grant that entitles it to collect biometrics of 200 million people after which NPR is supposed to take over. UIDAI has already registered around 120 million people in its system and expects to complete the rest in the next two-three months. On the other hand, considering that NPR has only enrolled around 7.5 million so far, the Planning Commission has approached the cabinet to take a call on the matter.
This option of UIDAI continuing with its multi-registrar model of enrollment without funding (where other agencies pay for it) could ensure that the project is not stalled after it touches 200 million and will avoid duplication of government spending on both projects, which are on similar lines. The UID programme is also known as Aadhaar.