Under PM Narendra Modi dispensation, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the National Population Register (NPR), the two similar projects launched by the UPA government for issuing unique 12-digit identity numbers to residents of India, are likely to be merged, according to a senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official.
Former home minister P Chidambaram, whose tenure saw the launch of NPR in 2010, was on several occasions at loggerheads with the implementation of UIDAI headed by former Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani as both projects had overlapping features as biometric identification. While the UIDAI generated Aadhaar cards had no legal backing, it is mandatory for every citizen to be enrolled under the NPR under the Citizenship Act 1955.
In a presentation before Home Minister Rajnath Singh on his first day in office, ministry officials suggested that both the schemes could be merged and an arrangement should be done where both can work together.
The UIDAI works under the aegis of Planning Commission while NPR is a project of the MHA. UIDAI was rolled out in 16 states while NPR is a nationwide project.
“The minister was briefed about several subjects and this was one of them. He asked for actionable suggestions on various issues pertaining to the ministry and it was suggested that the two schemes could be merged,” said a senior official.
Chidambaram refused to comment on the subject and Nilekani could not be reached for comments.
Soon after taking charge, Singh held a three-hour meeting with senior ministry officials and went through presentations on various subjects. He asked officials to come up with innovative ideas for internal security and better coordination between the Centre and states. The minister also asked officials how the border disputes with China, Bangladesh and the Sir Creek area along Gujarat coast touching Pakistan can be revisited and an alternative scenario could be arrived at which does not compromise national security.
Crucial divisions like Internal Security, Naxal Management, Centre-State, North-East and Jammu and Kashmir have been directed to prepare a roadmap to improve internal security architecture in the next few days.
“He asked officials heading different divisions to make individual presentations. He asked us to let him know what kind of intervention he could make in areas of inter-ministerial coordination, sanction of funds and ensuring cooperation of Central and state governments,” said the official.