Aadhaar-issuing authority UIDAI has asked states to ensure that all enrolments, even those by private agencies, shift to government or municipal premises from external sites by September this year. The move will have a bearing on 25,000 active enrolment centres across India and ensure that they come under direct supervision of the authorities.
It is also expected to curb cases of overcharging by private operators as enrolment and updation can be closely monitored by the government, under the new arrangement. Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey has written to the states asking them to identify centres within government premises for enrolment and updation activities by July 31.
UIDAI has said the process of shifting enrolment operations to such centres should be completed by August 31, 2017.
When contacted, Pandey confirmed this saying the enrolment centres will have to shift from private locations into government premises such as district collectorates, zila parishad offices or municipal offices. They could also be re-located at banks, block offices, taluk offices or other delivery offices run by state government where direct supervision can be ensured. According to Pandey, shifting of the enrolment operations into state premises would result in greater convenience for residents.
"There are times when people find it difficult to locate enrolment centres and many times they complain to us. Or they may go to a centre and find it closed. At times, there are complaints of overcharging," he said adding that tighter control over private agencies will ensure that services are performed strictly as per prescribed norms and there are not deviations.
The latest move assumes significance as most government and other services such as benefits, subsidies and services like PAN, GST, bank accounts, passports and property registration now require Aadhaar. Hence, it would be imperative for state governments to provide the facility of enrolments and updates at secure and convenient locations so residents are not inconvenienced.
In the letter to all the chief secretaries dated June 28, UIDAI has said that states governments can set up their own enrolment centres within the government or municipal premises with their own personnel as enrolment operators.
Alternatively, they can engage UIDAI's empanelled enrolment agencies after reviewing their credentials, provided these centres are set up in government or municipal premises. UIDAI has said at least three centres should be established initially in every block or taluk (within government premises). Thereafter, the number of such centres can be reviewed as per demand.
Asked about the implication of the new directive, Pandey said, "private entrepreneurs will have to find supervised premises or they have to close down business".
The UIDAI is the nodal body responsible for rolling out Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric identification number, to all residents. Aadhaar has been issued to more than 115 crore people till date.