Nilekani ID project gets nod at meeting

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The Planning Commission and the home ministry appeared headed for a compromise on the unique identity project after the Prime Minister stepped in to end the smart card versus identity number battle, The Telegraph reports.

Sources said Nandan Nilekani, who is chairing the unique identification authority, would be given a free run and the home ministry would be allowed to continue its work even if it means some duplication.

“The overall message is that Nilekani’s project will not be stymied. The home ministry can continue its work but it would not be at the cost of the project of Nilekani, who was invited to lead the scheme,” a source said. The source added that the Prime Minister stressed this point.

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The understanding seems to have been reached at an “informal” meeting Manmohan Singh held with several senior colleagues to resolve differences over security concerns, costs, authenticity of data and duplication.

“I think we have come to an agreement on how both the projects (unique identity number and the National Population Register) can proceed together without any difficulty,” plan panel deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said after the meeting.

The controversy is over collecting bio-metric data, which include fingerprinting and scanning of iris. While the Planning Commission’s unique identification authority has been collecting the data from resident Indians, the registrar general and census commissioner, under the home ministry, has been collecting similar information for its national population register (NPR).

The home ministry has two major arguments, security of data and costs. The ministry feels the data collected by the UIDAI is not secure as the information is gathered by hired organisations.

However, the UID project, which started after the smart card project, is likely to complete its mandate of 200 millions numbers before the march 31 deadline.

Till now, the home ministry has prepared 5 lakh resident cards after collecting biometric data of 10 million people.

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