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Ten Tribals Become First Indian Nationals To Get UID Numbers

Nandurbar (Maharashtra), Sep 29 : Ten tribals from the tribal hamlet of Tembhli today became the first to receive the Unique Identity Numbers from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who said
PTI September 29, 2010 15:09 IST
Nandurbar (Maharashtra), Sep 29 : Ten tribals from the tribal hamlet of Tembhli today became the first to receive the Unique Identity Numbers from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who said this would help the poor get the benefits of welfare projects.  

Singh and Gandhi distributed the first ten 'Adhaar' cards of Unique Identification Authority of India to ten residents of the tribal hamlet at a function attended by Maharashtra Governor K Shankaranarayanan, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Alhuwalia and UIDAI chief Nandan Nilekani.  

The Prime Minister said the issuing of unique identity cards is a beginning of a big effort for the welfare of the common man.

"The poor did not have any identity proof. Due to this shortcoming, they could not open bank accounts or get ration cards. They could not avail the benefits of government welfare programmes because of this and many times, these benefits were pocketed by others," Singh said.  

He said those who are economically and socially backward will be the biggest beneficiaries of this programme.  "We will give every opportunity to live a dignified life to our poor, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes people," he said.

Singh also said the rolling out of the unique numbers displayed a symbol of a new and modern India.

"We are moving fast in the field of technology. Nowhere in the world, technology has been used in such a big way. I hope every citizen will get this number very soon," he said.

Sonia  Gandhi also echoed similar views saying the unique identification numbers will help plug the loopholes in the Public Distribution System (PDS). "The problem of fake ration cards will be over now," she said.

Notwithstanding the media glare on the nondescript village of Tembhli with a population of just over 1,000, its sarpanch is unaware of what the hype is all about ahead of the launch of the country's ambitious Unique Identification project.

"I don't know why is there a sudden spurt of activity in the village," Shabribai Sonawane told PTI, a day ahead of the national launch of 'Aadhaar'.

Tembhli, in Maharashtra's Nandurbar district with a population of 1,098, becomes the first 'Aadhaar' village in the country.

The tribal Nandurbar district has previously seen Congress leaders launch election campaigns in the state over the years.  

Asked if government officials have informed her about the historic event taking place, Shabribai, who works eight months a year in adjoining Gujarat as a farmhand, said she was told that some "big people" were coming to her village.  

On the unique ID cards, to be given to 10 Tembhli villagers tomorrow, Shabribai, who earns Rs 50 per day as a cotton farm labourer, said she had "no idea what the card will be used for".

A strong media contingent that had descended on the village tried to trace its 10 chosen residents, who would get their 'Aadhaar' numbers,  with little luck.

A police constable on duty suggested that one way to find their identity was to search for hamlets marked with the Aadhaar scheme icon. However, that turned out to be a false lead.

Barricades were erected everywhere, at the entry point of each lane. Locals said the concrete lanes have been laid out recently, a fringe benefit of the VVIPs visit.  

The village school was painted afresh, so was the PDS shop. The water supply tank too was also painted anew. The ration shop, gram panchayat office, the anganwadi building, all were gleaming in a fresh coat of paint.

"Please note that in the last few days, teachers have been attending school regularly," said a resident of the village situated on the bank of Gomai river bordering Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

The district administration provided electricity to 100 houses on an urgent basis under the Rajiv Gandhi Electrification Scheme.

For Tembhli, Diwali, it seems, has arrived a month early as it became the first among lakhs of villages in India to get the Aadhaar numbers.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Deputy CM Chhagan Bhujbal and UID chief Nandan Nilekani attended the launch of Aadhaar, billed as the tool that would vastly improve the service delivery mechanism of welfare schemes. PTI