The government plans to use Aadhaar to ‘completely digitise’ air travel amid a raging debate on privacy concerns regarding the world’s largest biometric ID database.
Through verification by Aadhaar, travellers will be able to get a digital boarding pass long before their flight, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said in an interview with BloombergQuint’s Sanjay Pugalia.
On reaching the airport, Aadhaar biometrics would allow seamless entry through the security and check-in points, avoiding the need for a hard copy of the boarding pass, Sinha said.
The government is also looking to launch ‘Travel Stack’, an interface which will hold Aadhaar data to allow fluid and paperless travel.
The application programming interface will be similar to India Stack, which is part of the government’s ‘Digital India’ efforts.
The plan comes as the Supreme Court hears a batch of petitions challenging the government’s decision to make Aadhaar mandatory for filing taxes. There are concerns regarding security of data on government websites.
A recent report by non-profit research organisation, the Centre For Internet & Society, pointed out that up to 13.5 crore Aadhaar numbers can be easily accessed through government portals and nearly three-fourths of these are linked to bank accounts.
The government also plans to bring in a Unified Security Architecture (USA) with the help of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to standardise security systems throughout the country.
The unified force will secure all airports, including the regional ones, in a way that the Transport Security Administration works for all U.S. airports.
Sinha expects to deploy the USA at more than 200 airports through the UDAN (Ude Desh Ke Aam Naagrik) initiative. It has already increased the number of airports from 75 to 108, Sinha added.
The UDAN scheme aims to boost regional connectivity with flights covering smaller distances through a market-based mechanism. The flying price has been capped at Rs 2,500 per hour to allow more flyers while airlines will get tax concessions to ensure feasibility.
IndiGo Airlines, owned by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., has invested Rs 10,000 crore to acquire 50 turbojets for short-distance flights. Sinha said that national airlines such as IndiGo, SpiceJet, and others, are expected to handle regional routes through subsidiaries. He hopes that this will help shape up the regional aviation industry.