PC, Montek dismiss reports of rift over ID project
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Last Updated: Monday, January 23, 2012, 21:02
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 details.

"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.


First Published: Monday, January 23, 2012, 21:02

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