How the UIDAI-CSC Split Affects Aadhaar Enrolment For Rural Poor

How the UIDAI-CSC Split Affects Aadhaar Enrolment For Rural Poor

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Long queues, repeated sojourns to government offices and travelling long distances will soon become a norm for the millions of rural poor, who will be hit the most by the UIDAI’s decision to not renew their contract with Common Service Centres (CSCs).

Citing “enormous number of complaints of corruption and enrolment process violations against Aadhaar enrolment/Update centres under CSC e-Gov”, the UIDAI, in a letter dated 6 February 2018, refused to provide permission for centres under the CSC network to provide Aadhaar services.

Also Read : Is UIDAI Dumping CSCs Going to Solve Aadhaar’s Security Issues?

Be it mandatory linking of Aadhaar card with various services or Aadhaar-based distributions of rations – it is the country’s poor that is always affected the most by the trickle-down effects of these knee-jerk decisions from the government.

The Quint visited Barsana town near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh to find out the extent to which the common people will get affected by this decision.

In government offices, first you need to buy a form then stand in queues. Moreover they only admit 50 people on a daily basis and even if we stand in queue since 4 am, there are already people from the cities who get to these centres first. We have to cover long distances.
Local from Hathia village

Rural Entrepreneurship Also to Bear the Brunt

Not just the customers, the CSC owners or the Local Village-level Entrepreneurs (VLEs) who set up and run CSCs in remote and less-connected villages, will also be affected by the non-renewal of the contract. To boost linking Aadhaar with several services, the VLEs were encouraged to invest in biometric equipments, which can cost anything between Rs 50,000-60,000.

We had taken the machine for Rs 58,000, I had taken a loan from someone. Now my machine will go to waste.
Ram Kishan, CSC Owner

The CSC owners also said that when people came to their centres to link their Aadhaar, their businesses would get a boost. The snapping of ties will also take a hit on the development of rural entrepreneurship – one of the motives with which this partnership was initiated. "When people come to my shop, my shop also gets promoted. They can see what are the other services I provide," one CSC owner told The Quint.

Although the letter was sent on 6 February, there hasn't been any formal communication to the VLEs about the notification. The only complaint the local CSC owners had was that their machines had stopped working; but they said they were not sure if it was because of the recent government decision, or whether there was a defect in the equipment as is the case on a regular basis.

Also Read : In a Delhi Slum, Aadhaar Deprives Several Families of Rations

Rampant Corruption, Extortion Infused CSC Aadhaar Enrollment Process

Despite the incurring problems, it remains undeniable that there were gross violations of rules and rampant corruption. While travelling long distances is a nuisance, the residents of these areas can seldom afford to shell out exorbitant rates for Aadhaar services.

We are ready to stand in long queues. But only if we don’t have to pay high rates to get our Aadhaar work done.
Local from Hathia village

Crackdown on Corruption: Does it Work?

From Aadhaar data breach racket exposed by The Tribune topped with problems of VLE operators being involved in making money by gaining access to Aadhaar data to several other complaints of bribery and extortion, the CSC scheme has been infested with corruption.

(Photo Courtesy: Twitter Screengrab)

In a bid to curb cases overcharging by VLEs, the UIDAI passed an order in September 2017 to ensure that all enrollment centres would work from government premises/banks and post offices. In June 2017, the UIDAI restructured the penalty for reported cases of malpractices. The new order had said:

  1. The penalty for overcharging or any malpractice being done at any enrolment center has been increased from Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000 per case reported.
  2. Due to various cases of bypassing the operator biometric capture being reported, UIDAI has decided to impose a penalty of Rs 1,00,000 per enrolment station found to be bypassing the operator biometric.
  3. The UIDAI guidelines violation could also lead to imprisonment of upto 10 years with the above penal actions. VLEs are advised to follow the UIDAI guidelines strictly to avoid such penalties.

As of Feb 2018, 18 Crore Aadhaar Numbers Enrolled by CSCs

According to latest data, as of February 2018, out of the roughly 119 crore (1.19 billion) Aadhaar numbers, over 18 crore (180 million) had been generated by CSC enrollment centres.

Owing to the initial quick Aadhaar enrollment, done with the help of these CSCs, many centres were converted into permanent registration centres for Aadhaar cards. Currently, there are as many as 11,280 CSC Permanent Enrollment Centres across India.

In the letter, the UIDAI requested CSCs “to process its exit from the UIDAI system per extant procedure and guidelines and close Aadhaar enrolment/update centres working under it in phased manner without causing inconvenience to the general public.”

With the 31 March Aadhaar deadline linking looming, this latest development will only serve to further complicate and add to the rush of linking services – adding to the woes of the rural poor.

Camera: Abhay sharma
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman

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