The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has been alloted Rs120 crore for providing Indian citizens with a unique identity number. An online data base with identity and biometric details of Indian residence and provide enrollment and verification services across the country will soon be established, said Pranab Mukherjee, while presenting the budget proposals for the year 2009-10.
The first set of unique identity numbers will be rolled out in 12 to 18 months.
Mukherjee stated that the setting up of the UIDAI is a major step in improving governance with regard to delivery of public services. Expressing happiness, the finance minister said that this project also marks the beginning of an era where top private sector talent in India steps forward to take the responsibility for implementing the projects of vital national importance.
Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, heads the UIDAI which was formed earlier this year as an attached office under the planning commission.
The project will eliminate the need for multiple identification cards and papers. It could also be used in the Citizens Smart Card Project that would provide access to subsidies on food, energy, education, etc.
The unique ID project will link an individual to unique, lifelong identifiers such as parentage, date and place of birth.
The numbers will be issued in the coastal areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal, Dadar and Nagar Haveli, Lakshadweep, Puducherry and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
According to the planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the scheme would be the largest such unique identification system in the world. ''It is high priority for the government and can eliminate the need of multiple cards. The unique ID card will help citizens avail basic government services. We will start testing these on a pilot basis in a year,'' Ahluwalia said.