The ambitious UID project, headed by Nandan Nilekani, started on a bitter note for most Mumbaikars. Lack of information and long queues at the centres made everybody wonder whether the UID project headed by a genius like Nilekani, will follow in the same footsteps that so many other government projects this country has seen so far.
Raghavdas Shenoy (73) a Sion resident, and his 68 year-old-wife Vasanti Shenoy, will never forget the day they went to enrol themselves at one of the Unique Identification (UID) centres in Mumbai. Not only did they have to wait in a queue for more than 8 hours, they had to brave the rains without proper facilities like drinking water and toilets. The Shenoys are not the only ones who faced this nightmarish experience while enrolling themselves for the UID. There were many reports of long waits and of being duped by some touts who were charging senior citizens up to Rs100 for forms and for help with enrolment.
Yes, the ambitious UID project, headed by Nandan Nilekani, started on a bitter note for most ‘Mumbaikars’. Lack of information and long queues at the centres made everybody wonder whether the UID project by a genius named Nilekani, launched on September 29, 2010, in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district by Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi themselves will follow in the same footsteps that so many other government projects this country has seen so far.
On being asked about the cost of the project, an official revealed that the Centre has sanctioned over Rs 500 crore - Rs 50 per card, while the state will be paying between Rs 35 to Rs 40 per card to the agencies.
The story of the first six months...
The UID was launched in all 35 districts and 23 civic corporations of Maharashtra. Six months after the inception of the scheme in Mumbai, the enrollment rate for UID was languishing at 12 per cent, far behind the mid-yearly target of 20 per cent. Out of the 1.2 crore people in the Mumbai city, a paltry 1.5 lakh have enrolled for the UID so far, which is about 5 per cent of the population. Against a target of enrolling 250 people per day, vendors have managed to rope in a meagre 188 people per day. Around 145 enrollment centres have been established across the city, with four agencies appointed to implement the task. South Mumbai has the least number of people enrolled for UID. Against the population of 31 lakh, just 2 lakh people have been enrolled. In the western suburbs, out of 55 lakh people, 6.3 lakhs are listed for biometric identification. Reasons being a majority of people don’t know why UID is important and where to get enrolled. The lapse was both from the vendors’ and the civic body’s end. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) was given the responsibility of publicizing the project, but it seems it had clearly failed to do its job.
Looking at the initial rush and hiccups seen in the first few months, the authorities quickly announced through various channels, that the deadline for the project has been extended by another 14 months and the number of centres across city and state increased manifold.
When contacted, Vijaylakshmi Bidari Prasanna, Director, Information and Technology, confirmed this. She said, “We have registered one crore people under the Aadhaar project. This is an achievement as most of the other states are lagging far behind us. The implementation of the project is in progress in all the 35 districts of the state. We have centres opened in all the 23 municipal bodies across the state. Apart from that each tehsil of every district has a minimum of 10 centres and those are subdivided into booths and wards. As of now, the Aadhaar centres are active at 1,100 locations all over the state.
“Presently 4,000 machines have been installed and the government has a plan to double the present infrastructure by installing 4,000 more machines. The state aims to cover at least 90 per cent of its entire 10-10.5 crore population under this project by March 2012,” Bidari Prasanna added further. It is estimated that it would take between 12 and 18 months to complete the registration process in the state and the process would continue if needed, she made it clear.
In order to make the enrolment process easy, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has roped in nationalised banks as registrars. These banks will be able to enrol customers and staff members in their own premises. Some of these banks include Bank of India, Bank of Maharashtra, State Bank of India and Indian Overseas Bank.
Registrations for the UID would further get easier within a fortnight, as the UIDAI will soon start its online appointment system in the city. The test trials for the online appointment are already underway in Mumbai and Pune at the Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) offices. The internet-based online citizen service website, www.mahaonline.gov.in, was launched jointly by the TCS and the government of Maharashtra. Through this system, citizens can fill their Know Your Residence (KYR) and KYR plus form online and will get a reply through text message or email about their appointment for finger and iris scanning.
Besides, applicants can also call on the helpline 18001801947 for further details on enrolment.
—With inputs from Vishnudas Sheshrao
The 1,00,00,000-crore mark
- In nine months, UIDAI also known as Aadhaar, has issued one crore UID numbers
- The record was achieved with issuing of UID to 52 year-old NK Chheda from Maharashtra, the state where first UID number was issued to Ranjana Sonawane on September 2010.
- It took three months to cross the ten lakh mark and only another six months to reach the one crore Aadhaar enrolments mark.
- Enrolments are in progress in more than 25 states and Union Territories by more than 30 registrars.
- Currently, the Aadhaar ecosystem is enrolling more than 4,00,000 residents a day.
- The goal is to issue 60 crore Aadhaar numbers by 2014.