New Delhi: Common service centres (CSCs), or information technology kiosks being set up to offer digitized government services in rural areas, will help collect biometric data for India’s unique identity (UID) project, known as Aadhaar.
The cabinet had approved Rs3,539.24 crore in March for the National Population Register, which will be created along with Census 2011. The biggest chunk of the fund will go towards collecting the biometric data through CSCs.
The Registrar General of India (RGI), which has an agreement with Aadhaar for synchronizing biometric data collection for UIDs and the ongoing national Census, made the proposal to use CSCs, around 100,000 of which are being created. Biometric data includes facial recognition features, iris scans and fingerprints.
“This exercise is being proposed to be carried out along with Census 2011, for which canvassing and house-listing has begun in April,” a senior official of the department of information technology (DIT) told Mint, speaking on condition of anonymity.
At least Rs3,000 crore has been sanctioned to RGI for the project, said an official belonging to the government agency on condition of anonymity.
“DIT’s mandate will be to verify and get biometric details of citizens whose demographics have already been collected as part of the Census exercise,” he said.
RGI has proposed that the CSCs capture biometrics in 21 non-coastal states for 640 million people, or nearly half the population, he added.
In coastal villages, a consortium of public sector units will carry out the data collection.
RGI and DIT are working out the modalities, the official said, adding that the deal could provide a financial boost to the CSC project.
DIT has set up around 77,000 CSCs on a public-private partnership basis until now, aimed at offering services such as tax payments, property and vehicle registration, along with banking and telecom services. But the kiosks face a financial crunch as most government services are yet to be digitized and private players have shown little interest in tapping rural markets.
“According to our estimates, the cost for capturing the biometrics should come to around Rs30 per person (to be paid by RGI), excluding the cost of equipment,” the DIT official said. That will add around Rs1,900 crore to CSCs’ coffers.
A second DIT official, who did not want to be named, said projects of both CSC and UID will gain from the deal.
Sahil Makkar contributed to this story.