PC, Montek dismiss reports of rift over ID project

The Planning Commission proposed to take a note to the Cabinet on this issue during its scheduled to meet on Wednesday.

Mamallapuram/Thiruvananthapuram: Union Home
Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission Deputy Chairman
Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday rejected reports that they were
locked in a turf war over the ambitious UIDAI project to give
every Indian resident a unique ID number Aadhar.

Chidambaram also said the government was mulling
incorporating Aadhar numbers in the future resident Identity
cards of the National Population Register(NPR), which falls
under the Home Ministry.

Ahluwalia said it would not matter if there is a "small
overlap" between UIDAI`s Aadhar project and NPR. UIDAI, headed
by Nandan Nilekani, is under Planning Commission`s ambit.

"There were some media reports about conflict between
the Home Ministry and the UIDAI, but they are not true,"
Chidambaram said launching the distribution of smart cards
under NPR for coastal villages in Tamil Nadu at Pattipulum
village, near Mamallapuram, about 80 km from Chennai.

Chidambaram said Aadhar was a unique number while the
smart card being issued under NPR would have comprehensive

"Aadhar is the unique identification number. NPR issues
an identity card with all relevant information. The NPR card
would get a special status if Aadhar number is incorporated,"
he said.

His comments came against the backdrop of reports of
differences between the Home Ministry and the Planning
Commission over carrying out the bio-metric collections for
the ambitious Unique Identification Number project.

Ahluwalia while seeking to dispel the impression of
sharp differences between Planning Commission and the Union
Home Ministry over UIDAI project said it should be allowed to
go ahead with steps taken to avoid overlap with the NPR.

The Planning Commission proposed to take a note to the
Cabinet on this issue during its scheduled to meet on
Wednesday, he said.

"If there is a small overlap (with NPR) that would not
matter. There are many government programmes which do similar
things and we don’t apply the principle that you should not
have any overlap.

"We regard the Aadhar project as a very important
national project that will enable much greater efficiency in
the operation of a large number of government schemes", he
told reporters in the Kerala Capital.

A turf war had erupted with Chidambaram writing to the
Prime Minister objecting to the Nandan Nilakeni-headed UIDAI
collecting bio-metric data beyond its mandated 20 crore limit.
The Home Ministry held that the data collected by UIDAI was
not secure as it is done by hired-organisations.

Ahluwalia said discussions had taken place between the
Registrar General`s office and the Aadhar authority to see
whether the overlap could be avoided.

"The Home Ministry and the Registrar General`s office
have said they will not be able to use any data collected by
the UIDAI because they have a statutory requirement that only
data that each has collected in a particular way can be used.

So our view is, of course, that we should not interrupt the
Aadhar process which is going very well," he said.

"May be by modifying the guidelines perhaps the Registrar
General will also be able to choose the data from Aadhar. But
if for some reason that is not possible, my position is that
the Aadhar project should be allowed to proceed at its own
pace because it`s a very crucial project to improve efficiency
of number of government programmes," Ahluwalia said.

When asked about security concerns expressed by the Home
Ministry, he said, "You know my understanding is this security
concerns are relevant for Home Ministry`s project. We are not
saying that the Aadhar project should actually necessarily be
used by the Home Ministry."

"If they felt they wanted to have a higher level of
security concern, they could do that in NPR," he said.


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