Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Touts cashing in on Aadhaar card rush

As Aadhaar becomes mandatory for more government benefits, and for income tax and banking transactions, touts and a number of enrolment agencies are making a killing.

“With Aadhaar necessary to file income-tax returns this year, many people are seeking appointments. But, the queue is long and we cannot accommodate them all immediately,” said the manager of an enrolment agency, adding that the waiting period is about 20 days.

However, many touts and enrolment agencies are seeking money to cut the waiting period for faster enrolment.

For instance, in the National Capital, touts are seeking between ₹500 and ₹1,000 per person for enrolment. Some others are promising doorstep enrolment by their “agents” for a fee of ₹1,000 to ₹1,500.

“The Aadhaar enrolment ID will be given immediately and the Aadhaar number will come in a week,” promised one such agent.

The rates of updation of details are slightly lower, but they promise it will be done by the next day. But, this is in direct contrast to government norms under which enrolment for Aadhaar is absolutely free of charge, while a minor fee of ₹25 is charged for updating biometric and demographic data.

With numerous complaints of overcharging and corruption, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has already blacklisted 5,871 operators since December 2016.

“UIDAI has zero tolerance on this issue and also imposes a penalty on the enrolment agency for each incident of corruption. From July 1, the penalty has increased from ₹10,000 to ₹50,000,” said Ajay Bhushan Pandey, Chief Executive Officer, UIDAI.

He added that UIDAI has been taking stern action against all such operators and enrolment agencies and has once again warned them to follow proper procedures for enrolment.

Currently, over 116.88 crore Aadhaar IDs have been generated. Over the last few months, the government has widened the scope of Aadhaar, making it mandatory for it to be linked with Permanent Account Numbers and bank accounts, and for it to be quoted in income tax returns, apart from subsidy schemes

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