If 2017 will be remembered in Assam for the much publicised update of National Register of Citizens (NRC), then 2018 will perhaps be known for another equally mammoth exercise – enrolment for 12-digit unique identification (UID) numbers for citizens aka Aadhaar cards.
After years of uncertainty, people of the State will finally be able to enrol themselves for Aadhaar cards as Dispur has cleared the decks to begin the process. All necessary measures have been put in place to kick-start the process smoothly, including necessary administrative mechanism.
The General Administration Department (GAD), which has been made the State registrar, has floated the request for bid (RFB) in this regard. The last date for submitting RFB is 6th December and the bids will be opened the following day at 1 pm.
The GAD has sought separate bids for the 10 zones that Assam has been divided into for the purpose of Aadhaar enrolment.
After the bids are opened, work will be awarded to selected agencies by taking concurrence of the State Aadhaar Implementation Committee, which has the Chief Secretary as Chairman, and Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI).
Agencies empanelled with UIDAI, the issuer of Aadhaar cards, are eligible to participate in the bidding process. They will get 1-year time to complete the enrolment process.
Sources said that if everything goes as per plan, work on the ground will formally begin by December-end this year or January next.
Altogether 7,986 enrolment centres will be set up for the purpose, of which 5,985 will be permanent centres, while the remaining will be mobile centres for remote and difficult-to-access areas of the State.
Deputy Commissioners and Sub-divisional Officers (Civil) have been asked by GAD to identify buildings and locations where enrolment centres can be set up.
Once enrolled, Aadhaar cards will be sent to individuals by post free of cost. As such, address proof will be a must for enrolment. Other criteria for enrolment will be publicised later, sources said, adding that massive public awareness campaigns will be carried out across the State prior to the beginning of the exercise.
The entire cost for executing the UID exercise in Assam will be borne by UIDAI, as is being done in other parts of the country.
Assam is one of the few States in the country still outside Aadhaar ambit, the other prominent State being Jammu & Kashmir.
The UID roll-out process was stalled in the State after several organisations raised objections, arguing that the cards will become another document for illegal immigrants to prove citizenship. The organisations demanded that the process be started only after the update of NRC, being done under the Supreme Court’s supervision, is complete.
However, the current dispensation at Dispur studied the matter in depth and found that the objections were not based on facts. The State government referred to Clause 9 of the notification for UID issued by the Centre to justify its decision. Clause 9 states: “The Aadhaar number of the authentication thereof shall not, by itself, confer any right of or the proof of citizenship or domicile in respect of an Aadhaar number holder.”