Agartala: Aadhaar cards, the unique, 12-digit identification numbers given to residents of India, will soon be pressed into financial and banking services, to begin with in 50 districts, a top official said here Wednesday.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has already enrolled 20 crore people and aims to issue the UID cards to 40 crore more people in the next 18 months.
"The Aadhaar-enabled applications would be rolled out, first in the financial affairs, in the selected 50 districts of the country soon," UIDAI director general Ram Sevak Sharma said.
"Adoption of Aadhaar and Aadhaar authentication in Indian banking system is expected to change the financial landscape of the country," Sharma said.
The agency has been mandated to issue a unique identification number to every Indian resident, linked to his demographic and biometric information, which can be used to identify them anywhere in India, and to access a host of benefits and services.
According to Sharma, of the 50 selected districts where the Aadhaar enabled applications would be launched soon, four districts are in Tripura and two in Sikkim in the northeastern region.
Tripura leads the country by enrolling 90 percent of the 3.7 million population in the Aadhaar scheme, followed by Sikkim with 70 percent.
"Of India's 121 crore people, till March this year 20 crore or one sixth of the total population have been enrolled in the Aadhaar scheme," Sharma said.
The government has asked the UIDAI to enroll 40 crore more people by the next 18 months.
The UIDAI director general accompanied by his deputy Kumal Alok held discussions with Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and top officials of the state government about how to use Aadhaar enabled applications in the northeastern state.
"It was decided that all kinds of payments in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, all kinds of pensions and every scholarships in the educational sector would be made through Aadhaar-authenticated mechanism," said Sharma.
Sharma, a senior IAS officer, said the state governments and their priorities would decide how and what applications of Aadhaar would be made.
Asked about the controversy over whether Aadhaar can be misused by illegal infiltrators from across the border or unscrupulous elements or it be termed as proof of nationality, the UIDAI DG said that the unique ID number is only for developmental services.
"By providing a clear proof of identity, Aadhaar would empower poor and underprivileged residents in accessing services such as the formal banking system and give them the opportunity to easily avail of various other services provided by the government and the private sector," he clarified.
"The centralised technology infrastructure of the UIDAI would enable 'anytime, anywhere, anyhow' authentication of any individual through the 12-digit Aadhaar number."
Sharma said it was estimated that Rs.18,000 crore would be required to provide Aadhaar numbers to all the 121 crore Indians and to make the necessary platforms for its applications.
Other states which have enrolled a reasonable number of their population in the Aadhaar scheme include Andhra Pradesh (40 percent), Maharashtra (26 percent), Karnataka (26 percent), Jharkhand (25 percent), Punjab (23 percent), Himachal Pradesh ((23 percent) and Delhi (22 percent).