Truce in battle of biometrics and identity
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The government today approved a compromise formula to end the battle of biometrics between the ministry of home affairs and UIDAI. Both the Unique Identification Authority of India and the ministry's National Population Register (NPR) project will now continue to collect biometrics in the states where they are operating, and accept each other's data. However, should there be a discrepancy, the NPR's will be considered the master database and its biometric data will override the UIDAI's.
The Authority will now start the third phase of issuing the 12-digit Aadhar number to another 40 crore citizens in the 16 states and Union Territories it is already working in. The Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI also gets an additional Rs 5,000 crore, with its tenure running well into 2017. By March this year, the UIDAI would have issued 20 crore numbers, at a cost of Rs 3,023 crore.
At a joint press conference today, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, Nilekani and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia put up a united front, saying the NPR and UID projects would proceed side by side to ensure that all Indian citizens have a unique number by June 2013.
"I am very happy that both the NPR and UID will now go ahead in tandem," said Ahluwalia, adding that while the UID will only give Aadhar numbers in 16 states and UTs to 40 crore more people, the NPR will continue to cover the entire Indian population "with minimum biometric duplication".
"The NPR will issue a chip-based card to all citizens and this will have the UID number on it as well. The UID number will essentially help in delivery of government services to citizens while the NPR is a national project that factors in security concerns," Ahluwalia added.
The NPR will continue with the originally mandated "flow camp model", holding camps across states to enrol citizens but will not collect biometric data of those who have been issued an Aadhar number. It will however collect biometric data for those without the Aadhar number, Chidambaram clarified.