The government today said total Aadhaar enrollments have crossed the 100-crore mark, which will give a boost to various public welfare schemes and ensure that benefits are delivered directly to deserving masses.
Speaking to reporters, Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Aadhaar crossing the 100-crore mark is indeed a momentous occasion…will give boost to government’s initiative of bringing a systematic change in the way services, subsidies and benefits will be directly delivered to the deserving masses.”
Prasad added the government is quite open to bring more public services under the Aadhaar platfrom for a flawless delivery.
On the financial impact of Aadhaar on various social sector schemes, he said the direct benefit transfer for LPG (DBTL) scheme led to savings worth Rs 14,672 crore for the government, while under the public distribution system, the estimated savings are to the tune of Rs 2,346 crore across 4 states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Puducherry and Delhi.
The Minister said the government will persuade the Supreme Court to release more avenues for invocation of Aadhaar.
“Earlier, there was no legal basis for Aadhaar initiative but now there is a proper law duly framed, I think that will go a long way in assuaging the concerns,” Prasad said.
The Supreme Court had permitted voluntary use of Aadhaar cards in welfare schemes that included MGNREGA, all pension schemes and the provident fund besides ambitious flagship programmes like ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojna’ of the NDA government.
The social welfare schemes were in addition to LPG and PDS in which the apex court had allowed the voluntary use of Aadhaar cards.
Allaying the fears regarding privacy, Prasad said Supreme Court mandated standards to ensure privacy in case of phone tapping have been placed in the Aadhaar Act.
“Therefore, we have taken all precautions to ensure privacy safeguards in the bill,” he said.
The Minister further said as per section 29, core biometrics, which are fingerprints and iris, shall not be shared with anyone for any reason whatsoever.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) generated the 100th crore Aadhaar in a span of five-and-a-half years since the first Aadhaar was issued in 2010.
This comes just a few days after the legislation Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits, and Services) Act 2016 has been notified by the Government.
Aadhaar coverage now is at 93 per cent among people above the age of 18 (as per projected population figures of 2015).
As on date, in 13 states and union territories (UTs) Aadhaar saturation has crossed 90 per cent, while in thirteen other statues and UTs it is between 75-90 per cent.
Sharing the figures, Prasad said 22.25 crore (67 per cent) children of age 5-18 years have Aadhaar, 2.30 crore (20 per cent) children below 5 years also have UIDAI cards.
“Every day more than 5-7 lakhs people get enrolled for Aadhaar and it is now the largest online digital identity platform in the world,” he added.
The Minister further said the number of e-KYC transactions has gone up to 8.4 crore as on March 31, 2016 as against 2.7 lakh transaction on May 31, 2014.
“Total number of transactions on the Aadhaar Payment Bridge (APB) was logged at 94.71 crore worth Rs 28,363 crore, a handsome rise compared to the data on May 31, 2014, (which stood at) 7.13 crore APB transactions worth Rs 4,474 crore,” he said.
The government has already passed the Aadhaar Bill, providing statutory backing to the scheme.
The government wants to complete the enrolment process under the unique identification project at the earliest to use Aadhaar as a tool to provide subsidies and benefits under various social sector schemes directly.
Under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme, benefits like scholarships, pension and cooking gas subsidy are directly transferred to beneficiaries’ bank accounts.
The government intends to use Aadhaar as a tool to authenticate the identity of people to weed out ghost beneficiaries and plug leakages in spending on various social sector schemes.