The government’s move to pull the plug on its much-hyped direct benefit transfer (DBT) in disbursing LPG subsidy may throw the whole Aadhaar programme out of gear if corrective steps are not taken immediately to keep the ball rolling. It has gained proportions which can only be utilised and not discounted at any cost.
The total number of Aadhaars issued flashing on the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) portal at the time of writing this column was 57,75,30,807. At the current pace, the number should cross 60 crore within no time. This means about half the population in the country will be having Aadhaar soon, making them traceable through biometric identification. Of the total number of Aadhaars issued, 30.46% have been taken by individuals aged between 16 and 30, 24.45% by individuals between 31 and 45, 18.67% by those between 6 and 15, 18.32% by those between 46 and 65, 4.45% by those aged 66 years and above, and 3.65% by those below 5 years.
In terms of state-wise penetration, the maximum number of Aadhaars (8.22 crore) have been issued in Maharashtra; followed by Andhra Pradesh’s 7.87 crore, and Tamil Nadu with 4.37 crore, Madhya Pradesh (4.2 crore), Karnataka (4.13 crore), Rajasthan (3.8 crore), West Bengal (3.42 crore), Kerala (3 crore), Gujarat and Jharkhand (close to 2.6 crore each in both states), Uttar Pradesh and Punjab (2.34 crore each), Orissa and Haryana (1.8 crore each), and Delhi (1.66 crore).
The short point is Aadhaar can’t be ignored any more—it is a huge database which needs to keep growing till there is 100% coverage, and be utilised by the agencies across the country, both central and state-level. Be it linking of Aadhaar with permanent account numbers (PAN) to curb tax evasion, or its linkage to the National Food Security scheme to minimise leakages in the subsidy disbursal, or with land records in the states, the applications are countless to capitalise.
And now there is no doubt that the Aadhaar-based payment system through biometric identification works, and works well. The DBT in LPG distribution has proved beyond doubt that large number of transactions can be done successfully through this mode.
The petroleum ministry itself claimed on December 30: “The Direct Benefit Transfer for LPG (DBTL) scheme thus far has been a stupendous success with more than 40 million cash transfers to the consumer’s bank accounts. A total sum of over Rs 2,000 crore has been transferred