NEW DELHI: Around 92% of India’s adult population above 18 years has acquired valid Aadhaar numbers as on Wednesday, the significant landmark enhancing the case for linking the unique identity scheme to disbursal of benefits under welfare programmes run by the Centre and states.
The Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) achievement means that a very large majority of India’s adult population is in a position to access benefits through Aadhaar-linked bank accounts that should significantly reduce leakages by way of ghost and duplicate identities.
The government’s estimates show that most social sector schemes suffer from suspect beneficiaries who amount to 10-15% of the recepients. With subsidies offered by the Centre adding up to around 3.5 lakh crore a year, the use of Aadhaar that significantly reduces the risk of impersonation could mean savings in the region of 35,000-60,000 crore annually.
Banks are increasingly preferring Aadhaar identities for quick verification as the biometric confirmation helps reduce time and costs. It also allows banks to identify accounts that will receive government assistance to better assess a loan seeker’s financial status.
While the government has spent 7,100 crore since 2009 in rolling out the ambitious scheme to provide every resident an unique identification number, the possible benefits could far outstrip these costs, sources said.
The World Bank recently applauded the Aadhaar initiative and estimated that use of the scheme was saving the government about $1 billion (650 core) annually by curbing corruption while underlining that digital technologies could promote inclusion, efficiency and innovation.