Kerala offers R50 crore for UID project

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Jun 2 2011, 06:38am hrs
The new UDF government in Kerala is taking a headlong plunge into the R15,000-crore Unique Identification Card (UID card) project. To splash it out as the countrys first state with 100% coverage in UID, the state government has offered R49.50 crore for the project now.

Chief minister Oommen Chandy has asked UIDAI (UID Card Authority of India) chairman Nandan Nilekani what would it take for the project, forked out for three phases in Kerala, to be implemented in one year, in a single go. This is to speed up the identifity card for those under BPL (below poverty line) ambit and fasttrack their welfare measures. To cover the expenses of the surveyors at field work, about R49.5 crore would be required. Although this is Centres share as part of the project work, to expediate the project, the state is ready to advance this amount, Chandy told FE.

Kerala will also dovetail its three agencies, Askhaya, the e-literacy arm, Keltron and IT@School, to set the UID card project in motion.

If UIDAI is able to keep the current deadline of implementing the ambitious project for the States 34 million population, Kerala is likely to be the first state in the UID bandwagon, says Chandy. Although UID is wheeled forward by volunteers from private sector, academia and civil society, the day-to-day data collection within a timeframe is expected to be expensive.

From the moment it was launched in September 2010, UID targets covering 600 million within five years. Aadhar numbers have been issued to over 4 million by now. Beyond the numbers, UID project has accomplished is the fairly high levels of inclusion of the weaker sections of society. Aadhar number is counted on to help the aam admi to open a bank account, directly receive cash benefits and subsidies from the government.

The state feels that having the UID numbers in place will help the state schemes mesh well with the centrally-sponsored programmes, where Kerala has a poor history of fund-utilisation. For alleviation of hunger, the state specifically plans to link its rice at R2 per kilo programme to the proposed Food Security Act at Centre. To integrate these programmes and draw most fund-mileage from Centrally-sponsored programmes, Kerala reckons that being a early bird at UID bills would work.