New Delhi: The government on Tuesday said that no one would be deprived of benefits of various welfare schemes due to lack of Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India.
“No one will be deprived of the benefits for lack of Aadhaar and till the time Aadhaar number is assigned to any individual, the benefit will continue to be given based on alternate means of identification," the government said in a statement.
The statement is likely to create more controversy because it suggests that Aadhaar will eventually be required. The Supreme Court is currently hearing a case on whether Aadhaar can be made mandatory for availing of benefits of government schemes.
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Last week, the government said Aadhaar would be mandatory from 1 July for the over 100 million school children who are beneficiaries of the mid-day meal scheme .
The government said various ministries have been directed to provide Aadhaar enrolment facilities to the beneficiaries of the schemes they oversee.
“Considering the usefulness of Aadhaar in curbing leakages and bringing transparency in delivery system, the Government has recently issued orders to use Aadhaar in several other welfare schemes funded from the Consolidated Fund of India. While these orders require beneficiaries of these programs to give their Aadhaar number, it has also been ensured that no one is deprived of the benefits for want of Aadhaar," said the statement.
Also read: Welfare schemes for which Aadhaar is mandatory
Similarly, under the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the schools and anganwadis (welfare centres) have been asked to collect the Aadhaar number of beneficiaries. In case a child does not have Aadhaar, the school or ICDS functionary will be required to provide enrolment facilities; the benefits will continue.
Aadhaar is also compulsory for availing of benefits under the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in schemes such as cooking gas subsidy (PAHAL), Scholarships, Mahatma Gandhi National Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), and pensions.
In the Public Distribution System (PDS), Aadhaar has been made mandatory so that the subsidised foodgrains are received only by the genuine beneficiaries and not diverted by any middle man or unscrupulous elements.
According to the former rural development secretary N.C. Saxena, there are certain issues with the usage of Aadhaar for various schemes.
“There are three things—firstly the Aadhaar technology is not fully developed. Secondly, the Aadhaar cards of some individuals are not synchronized with their bank accounts. Lastly, the case of Aadhaar being made mandatory is still pending in the Supreme Court. That is the reason why Government is contradicting itself by issuing this notification even when schemes like PDS or ICDS are asking beneficiaries to compulsorily provide Aadhaar as an identity proof ," he said.
Currently, there are more than 1.12 billion Aadhaar number holders in the country.