Enrollment agencies in major Aadhaar dispute
Private businesses that are engaged in Aadhaar enrollment are protesting the high penalties being levied on them by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), due to enrollment errors.
In response, the Aadhaar Enrollment Agencies Association (AEAA), the lobby group representing the businesses has warned that they will be forced to stop work across the country and seek legal action to address rising fines.
The association claims that between January and March 2014, at least 52 percent of total payments due to agencies had been deducted as penalties. As a consequence, the association claims that nearly 80 percent of enrollment agencies are teetering towards bankruptcy.
Due to the increasing expenses associated with penalties, enrollment agencies have told the Times of India that only about 100 enrollment kits are in operation in the highly populated states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
UIDAI claims that the penalties are necessary since some agencies are taking an extremely long time to provide enrollment data to the agency. Delays of over 70 to 90 days have been reported. Penalties have also been imposed when the agency receives data without biometric profiles, such as iris or fingerprints.
The Aadhaar Enrollment Agencies Association (AEAA) has scheduled a meeting with the UIDAI on June 20 to discuss the impasse. The dispute comes as India’s new government decides how to move forward with the world’s largest universal Civil ID program.
The Aadhaar program, governed by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), aims to enroll all of the country’s residents through biometrics, in order to distribute 12-digit identity cards for access to social programs. So far, the program has combined enrollment of approximately 850 million people, with 630 million Aadhaar numbers generated.
As previously reported in BiometricUpdate.com, the new Bharatiya Janata Party government campaigned vigorously against the biometric system in the recent national elections. The system has also encountered a serious number of problems including Indian banks that are resisting processing Aadhaar subsidies and India’s Supreme Court ruling that Aadhaar numbers are not mandatory for receiving government services.
This week, India’s new home minister will consider new policy options focused on how to move Aadhaar forward.