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Aadhaar hiccups continue, deadlines keep moving

There has been a standing order from the apex court for not engaging any of the deputy commissioners of the State on duties other than NRC work; only about 8% of the people of the State have Aadhaar cards

GUWAHATI, May 14: The progress of Aadhaar card enrolment work in Assam is akin to taking a step forward only to take two steps backward. The strangeness of the situation stems from the fact that nobody at Dispur can say when the all-important enrolment will begin in the State.
The State government had set December 2017 for starting AADHAAR enrolment but missed the target. It then set another timeframe – April 2018 – only to miss it again.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has already made State General Administration Department (GAD) its registrar for the issuance of Aadhaar cards in the State. The GAD had floated the tender in 2017, inviting firms for awarding the contract, but the tender had to be cancelled following changes in the policy by UIDAI.
The GAD floated tender yet again in 2018 with a view to starting enrolment from April, but it has not been able to award the contract to firms as yet because problems have kept surfacing one after another.

According to sources, 16 of the 20 applicant firms have been found eligible for the contract by the GAD’s bid evaluation committee. The names of the firms and their quoted rates for the contract have been sent to the State Finance Department for approval by the GAD.
The first hurdle for the GAD to go ahead with Aadhaar enrolment is a directive from the Supreme Court. There has been a standing order from the apex court for not engaging any of the deputy commissioners (DCs) of the State on duties other than NRC work. As rules go, Aadhaar enrolment should be under the supervision of DCs. The problem has been complicated even more with UIDAI notifying DCs as enrolment agencies. The order from the Supreme Court has thrown the GAD into a predicament.

There are other problems as well. All the 1,241 Aadhaar enrolment centres to be set up in the State should be housed in government buildings, but most of such buildings are currently under the occupation of NRC Seva Kendras and its other offices. This apart, each and every enrolment centre should have a government official as document verifying officer, but with the NRC update process being underway, government officials cannot be deputed for the purpose now.

Meanwhile, the GAD has divided the State into ten zones, and as such it is going to give contracts to as many firms. UIDAI had also asked banks and post offices to carry on Aadhaar enrolment, but that was not satisfactory. Only about eight per cent of the people of the State have Aadhaar cards as of now.

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Ankur Kalita