Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sibal takes on Nilekani after UID outsources work

Dear Comrades,

Telecom minister Kapil Sibal has taken an objection to Nandan Nilekani-led Unique Identification Authority of India’s (UIDAI) decision to seek help of private players to deliver unique identification or Aadhaar letters to all those who get enrolled in the programme.

The UIDAI had signed an agreement with the postal department to deliver Aadhaar letters. The UIDAI pays Rs 20 for each Aadhaar letter delivered.

The authority had, however, found that the department was able to deliver just four crore of 12 crore Aadhaar letters generated. "There is a backlog of 8 crore letters as of now," a senior UIDAI official said. The UIDAI is close to generating 20 crore Aadhaar numbers. 
 Even though the slow delivery of Aadhaar letters started about four months ago, the UIDAI tried to sort out issues with the department. It took away the printing of the letters from the department and gave it to public sector undertakings to speed up the delivery process.

With not much improvement, the UIDAI recently called an expression of interest from private agencies to deliver the letters. "We want to split the work between private agencies and the postal department," a senior UIDAI official said.

The move has not amused the postal department, which claims to have made huge investments to ensure assured revenue of R400 crore from UIDAI.

Sibal, who is also heads the postal department, has expressed dismay at the UIDAI’s decision to take away the work from the postal department.

According to sources, Sibal had written to Nilekani accusing the UIDAI of informing the postal department only verbally and not through any written communication.

“It will be unethical for UIDAI to split the work,” an official said, quoting Sibal's letter.
The postal department has its reasons for delay.

“Around 30% of the Aadhaar letters don't have correct address. Therefore, locating the correct Aadhaar number holder is taking a lot of time,” said a senior postal department official, who was not willing to be quoted.
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