After Praising Aadhaar in US, Modi Calls for 100% Enrolment by Dec
Despite criticising the scheme before coming to power, the Modi govt has adopted Aadhaar for many of its marquee projects
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a review meeting of Aadhaar enrolments soon after returning from the Silicon Valley, where he heaped praise on the unique identity project. At the meeting held Wednesday afternoon, Modi asked state governments to expedite the enrolment and issue Aadhaar numbers to 100% of their population by December, officials in the know told ET.
Chief secretaries of all states joined the meeting under the Pragati initiative, which was started to monitor and review important projects of the government.The review coincides with Aadhaar completing five year of issuing the first number in September 29, 2010.
“Already around 92 crore numbers have been issued, which constitutes 77% of the entire population of the country and 92% of the adult population,“ a government official privy to the development told ET.
Of people who are yet to be issued Aadhaar, Uttar Pradesh has the highest number at 8 crore, followed by 5 crore in Bihar and 2.9 crore in West Bengal.
Meanwhile, many more states and regulators have joined the central government, the Reserve Bank of India, and market regulator Sebi in filing applications for review of a Supreme Court order that limited the use of Aadhaar to just food and LPG subsidy transfer.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday agreed to hear a batch of pleas next week filed by the banking and markets regula ors, along with the governments of Gujarat and Jharkhand, which sought clar fication and modifications of the order.
According to officials, Maharashtra, Haryana and Rajasthan are also planning to file similar review applications.
They are likely to be joined by telecom regulator Trai, insurance watchdog Irda and provident fund and pension regula or PFRDA which use Aadhaar in various capacities, said an official aware of he developments. “It is a massive show of support for Aadhaar,“ said the person who did not wish to be identified.
Despite criticising the scheme before coming to power, the Modi government has adopted Aadhaar -a pet scheme of he earlier UPA regime -for many of its marquee projects.
Speaking in the Silicon Valley, Modi had said the scheme has helped in reducing gas subsidy leakages of nearly ` . 29 lakh crore at older gas rates. “Earlier, nearly 19 crore people used to claim gas subsidy and the government had to pay for it.When we joined Aadhaar and Jan Dhan account, it came down to 13-14 crore,“ he told a packed auditorium at the SAP centre. “This is part of my JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) Yojana.“
ET had reported last week that the Centre and some state governments are planning to seek a review of the order which has virtually made all other linkages except for LPG and Food illegal.
RBI was the first to file the application in the top court seeking clarity on whether banks can continue to use the unique identification number as an identity and address proof for opening accounts. Senior advocate Jayant Bhushan is representing the central bank in this matter, while Harish Salve is arguing on behalf of the government of Gujarat and advocate Tushar Mehta is appearing on behalf of Sebi.
Over the last one month, Aadhaar has received blow after blow. The Election Commission, Employees Provident Fund Organisation, ministry of rural development (MGNREGA), and the finance ministry administering the Jan Dhan Yojana have issued directives to reconsider or halt their ongoing linkages with the project to avoid contempt of court.
In August, the Supreme Court had ruled that Aadhaar will not be used for any other purposes except PDS, kerosene and LPG distribution system. It also said that the information received by UIDAI shall not be used for any other purposes, except in criminal investigation with the permission of the court.
While RBI has sought clarification as to whether an account can be opened in a bank on the basis of the Aadhaar for providing the benefit of pension or for getting paid for the job guarantee scheme under MNREGA, Sebi wanted to use Aadhaar voluntarily in the securities market for know your customers (KYC) proof.
Raising issues similar to the RBI, Jharkhand, in its plea, sought to use Aadhaar in payments of pension and seek a declaration from pensioners that they are alive.
The Economic Times, New Delhi, 1st Oct. 2015
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