Cabinet to resolve Montek-Chidambaram row over UIDAI

New Delhi : The Planning Commission Friday said it will take the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issue to the cabinet next week to resolve its differences with the home ministry.

The project, called Aadhar, aims to give every Indian resident a unique identity number. It has already consumed Rs.672 crore till November, said informed sources.

“We are putting up a note before the cabinet shortly,” Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia told reporters.

The issue came into focus after Home Minister P. Chidambaram Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to resolve the differences over the project involving UIDAI.

The sources said given the prime minister’s support to the project, the UIDAI may get a statutory status to carry on its work independently.

A parliamentary standing committee has rejected the UIDAI Bill.

The home ministry wants clarity on which agency – the Registrar-General of India (RGI) or UIDAI – will capture the biometric data of the population as UIDAI has sought an extension of its mandate.

“Since there is no clarity…, I requested the Planning Commission to bring a paper to the cabinet and obtain a decision,” said Chidambaram’s letter.

The UIDAI, headed by technocrat Nandan Nilekani, comes under the Planning Commission. The RGI functions under the home ministry.

According to Chidambaram, the RGI had been asked to collect biometric data of all residents and send it to UIDAI to generate Aadhar numbers.

Stating that RGI’s work was “proceeding well and is expected to be completed by mid-2013”, Chidambaram said the UIADI was also authorised to collect biometric data initially for 100 million people, and later of up to 200 million people.

The sources said the home ministry feels data collected by the UIDAI is not secure and has not been verified by a government servant.

They said while the RGI staff actually visited households, the UIDAI invited people to designated centres, where data collection was been done by hired organisations.

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