The government has decided not to issue new smart cards to beneficiaries of government schemes as Aadhaar is now backed by a law.
Strict instructions has been issued to the Information Technology Ministry by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to restrict the States and Central government from issuing smart cards for new programmes for beneficiaries and to rely on the Aadhaar-based Direct Benefit Transfer platform instead.
This decision will impact ministries such as Labour, Social Justice and Health, which are in the process or have already rolled out smart cards.
According to the government, over 100 crore people, constituting 93 per cent of the adult population, had been assigned a unique identification (UID) number under the Aadhaar platform.
“The undersigned is directed to request the department to examine the need for state and central government departments to issue separate smart cards in the light of the near universal coverage of Aadhaar and the delivery of the most public welfare benefits through Aadhaar enabled platforms,” according to a directive issued by Gulzar N, Director, PMO, to Aruna Sharma, Secretary, Department of Electronics and Information Technology.
“The undersigned is also directed to request the department to prepare policy on the delivery of various public services using Aadhaar, Jan Dhan Yojana and existing platforms without the issuance of new smart cards,” it added.
Earlier, Thaawar Chand Gehlot, Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, had declared that a unique identity card will be provided to all differently abled persons to avail welfare schemes. State governments were also using smart card technology for welfare schemes.
The PMO also rejected Labour Secretary Shankar Aggarwal’s proposal to issue 40 crore smart cards to informal sector workers, called the Unorganised Workers’ Identification Number (U-WIN), to be used to access benefits under schemes such as Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana , Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana , Atal Pension Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana and Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana noting that Aadhaar would act as a “universal unique identifier for each citizen.”
“Smart cards are always better than biometrics otherwise the global financial infrastructure today would be working on biometrics and not on smart cards,” Sunil Abraham, Executive Director, The Centre for Internet and Society, said.