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Nilekani-Chidambaram tussle truce; both projects to go on simultaneously

New Delhi, Sat, 28 Jan 2012 NI Wire

The ongoing tussle between home ministry and planning commission has been resolved on Friday in a joint meeting of Home Minister P Chidambaram, Planning Commission Vice President Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Chairman of Unique Identity Authority of India (UID) Nandan Nilekani convened on PIB office.

In this meeting, a compromised formula has been sorted out in which government has approved that both the biometrics projects - Unique Identity Card (UID Card) and National Population Register (NPR) would go on at its full speed at their scheduled areas and if any where the data overlaps the NPR's data would be considered as the master data.

According to the compromised formula, the UIDAI will resume it projects in 16 states and cover a total of 60-crore population while NPR project under the home ministry would go on in the border and remaining areas and cover the remaining 60-crore population.

As it is known that UIDAI is Prime Minister's project running under the Planning Commission in which iris and thumb-impression based biometric data are being collected and a 12-digit based unique identity cards are being issued to individuals while NPR is Home Ministry's project targeting to entire population in which a comprehensive data is being collected with minimum biometric data and chip-based identity cards are issued.

The clash occurred when home ministry has denied to accept UIDAI's data for accumulating NPR's data due to security reasons. The Home Ministry has raised question about the process of collecting data and the process of issuing Aadhar Card without conducting proper verification.

The NPR covers 15 fields in data collection while UIDAI covers only 5 fields.

After government's concern over the security flaw of collected data, the UIDAI has demonstrated it before the home ministry and got the green signal.

Now, after given the government's nod, the UIDAI will again check its security wall before resuming its project from April 2012.

The government would grant an additional Rs.5,000-crore to UIDAI for further conducting the project.

By March 2012, UIDAI would issue 20 crore Aadhar card. A sum of Rs 3,023 crore is estimated for it.

In the compromised formula, it is also decided that both the NPR and UIDAI would accept each other's data and accumulate in issuing the biometric cards.

For example, if anyone has got UID card, the NPR will issue the ID by giving the UID number of the card and would not take biometric data while those have not got UID card would have give the biometric data to NPR.

In case, if clashes happen between the data of UID and NPR, the later's data would be considered as master data.

"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 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.

Clarifying over the NPR project, P Chidambaram said, "The NPR will continue with the originally mandated 'flow camp model'. It 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."

UIDAI president Nandan Nilekani stated, "In states where the UIDAI has started the process of issuing the UID, we will take a leadership role, and where the NPR is involved, they will take the leadership role."

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