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House IT panel chief for restart of Aadhaar services at rural CSCs
Economic Times, January 09, 2019

NEW DELHI: Anurag Singh Thakur, head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, has written to electronics and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad asking to restart Aadhaar services across over 3 lakh common service centres (CSCs), complaining that discontinuation of the work through these village-level digital kiosks had caused inconvenience to the public.

The initial contract of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which administers the Aadhaar scheme, with the CSC ended in December 2017 and has remained in abeyance since then. The operators of the CSCs, called villagelevel entrepreneurs (VLEs), have invested in equipment and manpower to carry out the Aadhaar work and discontinuation of the services is causing them significant financial distress, Thakur said.

“Keeping in view the inconvenience caused to the public as also the fact that stoppage of Aadhaar work to CSC has resulted in a large number of rural youth becoming unemployed, and the investment made by CSC VLEs in Aadhaar equipment remaining unutilised, I would strongly recommend Aadhaar work, especially update, to be enabled through all common service centres,” the BJP MP from Himachal Pradesh’s Hamirpur constituency wrote to the minister.

ET has seen a copy of the letter. The CSCs have invested close to Rs 1,000 crore in the equipment for Aadhaar enrolment and to update the biometric ID, and have generated close to 25 crore Aadhaar numbers, Dinesh Tyagi, CEO of the CSC e-Governance Services, told ET. Despite repeated requests to UIDAI, it has not responded or suggested any alternative, he said.

“We are ready to work in whichever format is feasible or conducive to UIDAI, keeping the safety and the security of people in mind. We are prepared to alter the functioning of the CSCs to remove any apprehension they have, but they must figure out a way to work out a mechanism which utilises the existing technology investments that CSCs have made,” Tyagi told ET.

He added that the CSCs were even ready to operate from government premises if that would help in resolving the matter. Both CSCs and UIDAI are arms of the Ministry of Electronics and IT. UIDAI did not respond to an email from ET seeking comment.

At a CSC event in November, Prasad reassured the VLEs that the government was trying to find a way to restore the Aadhaar services. Prasad also assured the entrepreneurs that every effort had been made for further strengthening their engagement in the process of reaching the masses through the use of Aadhaar.

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