Kerala State government to acquire thousands of fingerprint and iris biometric scanners

The government of India’s Kerala State has approved a proposal to purchase thousands of fingerprint scanners, iris scanners and tablets to carry out biometric Aadhaar authentication for payments to 4.2 million beneficiaries of social welfare, at an estimated total cost of roughly US$3.2 million, the Times of India reports.

The Kerala State IT Mission proposed the purchase of 4,731 tablets, for an estimated Rs 90 million ($1.2 million), and 10,331 fingerprint and 5,600 iris scanners, for a combined estimated price of Rs 109 million ($1.5 million). 4G connections for the tablets are also included in the total project budget.

Kerala State Principle Secretary of Finance Manoj Joshi previously said that the check is being done primarily to identify beneficiaries whose status has changed because they are missing, deceased, or have remarried. Between 2016 and 2018, local bodies in Kerala suspended 224,000 social welfare pensions as ineligible. The Times of India reports that in September, the government declared more than 64,000 people to be ineligible for welfare pensions, and suspended the distribution of benefits to them. More than 4,600 were subsequently reinstated.

The government distributes more than Rs 4.83 billion ($66.4 million) in social welfare each month to 4.2 million beneficiaries in the state. It has also used fingerprint biometrics to determine the eligibility of individuals for flood relief, according to the report.

India’s government has been clarifying the rules for use of Aadhaar biometrics after they were significantly curtailed by a Supreme Court ruling earlier this year.

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