Plan for universal coverage of Aadhaar hits speed-breaker in Nov, Dec

The ambitious plan for universal coverage of Aadhaar may have hit a slight speed-breaker, with the enrollment drive failing to meet targets for two consecutive months. The Maharashtra government, however, is now sharpening its strategy by going in for closer monitoring and optimum utilisation of kits to expedite registration.

A universal roll-out of the unique identity cards will help the Centre’s plans to push for the trinity of Jan Dhan-Aadhaar and mobile (JAM), to enable social security, delivery of welfare schemes and financial inclusion.

In November last year, the enrollment stood at just 7.39 lakh or 20.92 per cent of the target number of 36 lakh. In December, the figures were about 22.85 per cent of the expected 49 lakh, or 10.51 lakh. These projections are based on the number of kits deployed.

Till December 28, around 10.21 crore Aadhaar numbers were generated, which is 85.91 per cent of the state’s population of 11.89 crore. o: This means around 1.68 crore people are yet to be covered, most of whom, are from the zero to five age cohort, leading to intervention strategies being formulated to register children in schools and anganwadis, especially those where the enrollment was low.

“We are going in for closer monitoring and community participation,” said M Sankaranarayanan, director (IT), adding that some practical problems included anganwadis operating between 10 am and 2 pm, leading to a lower enrollment of children. Hence, anganwadis have been asked to operate full-time and co-ordination between departments was being streamlined.

“We started focussing on this issue only in October. Even by then, the focus was only on deploying machines. Later we realised that there was no optimum utilisation, which was started from November onwards,” he said, adding that this optimum deployment and proper utilisation would serve the purpose.

“The enrollment rate in December increased, as compared to November,” Sankaranarayanan pointed out, explaining that the number of holidays in November also affected the figures.

While those in the 18 years and above age cohort have an almost universal coverage of 95.81 per cent, the coverage is at 77.89 per cent for those in the five years to 18 year age group.

Most of the uncovered population is in the zero to five years age bracket, which has led the government to focus its efforts on this section and intervention strategies were being formulated to register children in schools and anganwadis, especially those where the enrollment was low.

The state has 2,000 registration kits with an additional 1,929 reaching districts. It has also decided to deploy 1,397 non-state registrars (NSR) kits, which were earlier with agencies such as banks, to increase enrollment.

Officials admitted that the actual use of these kits is lower than the 40 enrollments per day per machine target.

Enrollments are expected to rise as all kits are deployed. Though tablets were to be deployed for children below the age of five, they have not been effectively utilised due to issues in the Android-based software. The issue was raised to the UIDAI, which is working on it.

“Once new machines are deployed, the rate of enrollment will double to 20 lakh per month, from around 10 lakh now. This will enable us to enroll 60 lakh by March,” said Sankaranarayanan.

Aadhaar can be used for authentication, eKYC, seeding with other databases, elimination of ghost beneficiaries and de-duplication. It will also help stop pilferage and ensure targeted delivery of pensions and social security transfers. The Supreme Court has extended the voluntary use of the Aadhaar card to the MGNREGA, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, pension and provident fund schemes apart from the public distribution system and LPG subsidy.