NEW DELHI: The government is getting ready to convince the Supreme Court about Aadhaar card, seeking to preserve its status and putting the seal on a change of heart. Last year, the incoming Modi government hadn’t seemed too enthusiastic about the unique identity programme, one of the UPA government’s main achievements.
But it’s emerged since as the engine driving the good governance agenda. More than 47 crore transactions involving delivery of government services have been carried out using Aadhaar this year.
The rise has been steady through 2015—to 7.9 crore transactions in November from 1.3 crore in January, according to a presentation made to the PMO and seen by ET. Since the inception of Aadhaar authentication services in 2010, more than 110 crore transactions have taken place.
Despite this and the level of enrolment— said to be close to 90% of the adult population— the Supreme Court is concerned that tying benefits to the unique ID may exclude the needy, besides the issue of privacy.
ET has learnt that the cabinet secretary will helm the drafting of a strategy along with senior government secretaries on extending Aadhaar to more government services.
Meanwhile, the government will seek to convince the Supreme Court about Aadhaar’s utility. Aadhaar faces challenges on the privacy front with some critics concerned about access to the information of individuals.
In his Mann Ki Baat address recently, Modi said nearly Rs 40,000 crore had been transferred directly to the bank accounts, which was always one of Aadhaar’s main aims— accurate targeting and zero leakage of welfare payments. It’s been deployed to good effect in the rural jobs programme, another flagship UPA initiative. Out of 9.5 crore MGNREGS active workers, over 53% in 300 districts are now seeded with the ID and 2.84 crore payment transactions so far have been carried out using the Aadhaar payment bridge directly into accounts.
“There were a lot of complaints earlier regarding (rural job programme) payments,” Modi said in his Mann Ki Baat on Sunday but these seem to have been resolved. He also said that about 15 crore people were now getting the LPG subsidy in their bank accounts, which the PM said was a world record.
According to information with ET, nearly 5.6 crore such transactions are completed every month using the Aadhaar platform— the rest are through the account-based transfer scheme— with 60% of 16.33 crore beneficiaries under the LPG Pahal scheme now seeded with the ID number.
The highest levels of government have also been informed that 66.3 crore transactions to transfer the LPG subsidy over the Aadhaar platform have been carried out till date. The online authentication platform is now capable of handling 10 crore transactions daily while Aadhaar saturation among the adult population has reached 90%, with the issue of 95 crore IDs.