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Aadhaar may be brought under IT & Communications ministry

Aadhaar, the ambitious project of the government, may soon come under the purview of ministry of IT and communications because of its linkages with the IT technology.

The project under Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) was the brainchild of Planning Commission in the previous UPA government. But, following the revamp of the Planning Commission, the project has to be shifted to a new department.

“Since, Aadhaar has many links with IT technology and expected to play a bigger role in government’s plan of Digital India, the ministry of IT and communications has started consultations with the other ministries to move Aadhaar under its domain”, a senior government official told Business Standard.

The ministry, under the leadership of Ravi Shankar Prasad, will soon float a Cabinet note for bringing Aadhaar under its administrative jurisdiction, the official added.

Data shows till mid-January, 745.6 million people, or 61% of the population, had been allotted Aadhaar numbers. In 15 states, the percentage of Aadhaar enrolment is over 90%. Also 140 million bank accounts have also been seeded with the Aadhaar number.The government’s target is to enroll everyone in the scheme by June 2015.

Aadhaar is also being used to monitor attendance of government officials and as a proof of identity for availing government and private services. The government plans to link it with the driving licence going forward. It has also been linked with passports, mobile SIM cards, provident account funds and the Digital India project.

“Currently, all the forms related to above mentioned services ask for Aadhaar number as the optional field. But, soon it will become a mandatory field after the services are fully linked with them,” the official added.

The Cabinet approved a modified version of cash transfers for the cooking gas subsidy last October to begin in 54 districts and spread to the rest of the country by January.

The government is also working on a project to link voter identity cards to biometric Aadhaar identification numbers. Around three million security personnel will have access to instant voting. E-ballot services for security personnel would start after linking their voter ID cards with Aadhaar numbers.

E-ballot will replace the postal ballot system, where ballot papers are mailed to defence personnel and the votes cast are collected by India Post.Recently, the Supreme Court directed the government to enable e-voting for non-resident Indians (NRIs) within eight weeks. There are 10-11 million NRIs living across the world.

The Election Commission is also expected to soon launch a pilot project to link voter ID cards and Aadhaar numbers for common citizens, sources said. The project aimed at eliminating bogus voters will eventually be rolled out nationally.

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