Wednesday, July 28, 2010
UID project a waste of money, say NGOs
Bangalore Mirror Bureau
Posted On Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 05:23:17 AM
The national unique identification project (UID), headed by business icon Nandan Nilekani, is running into opposition from NGOs, researchers and independent activists.A campaign started against the project by Mathew Thomas, general secretary, Citizens Action Forum, Padmanabhanagar, has gained widespread support from NGOs and researchers. Its main concern is that UID benefits don’t justify the money spent on it.
Thomas said, “A cost-benefit analysis should be done before pumping in huge amounts. The current estimated cost of the project is Rs 45,000 crore. We would like to know if the benefits match it.” The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) says the project can check fake ID cards and save crores in the public distribution system. The Centre for Internet Society, Domlur, Citizens action Forum, Padmanabhanagar, and Alternative Law Forum, Infantry Road, jointly held a press conference on Monday and announced their opposition to the project. They have sent petitions to 300 MPs, asking them to raise the issue in parliament. The campaign feels UID cannot stop fake ID cards, as these details are also in the hands of corrupt officials.
Thomas said, “In this system you are giving all details to officials. Any government department can all your information, including your credit card numbers and bank account details.”
The campaigners feel linking biometrics to the project has an added disadvantage. He quoted the report published in Bangalore Mirror on July 25 about police harassing a jeweller and taking his fingerprints.
“Imagine, if they have our fingerprints, they can fix us in any case. It will be like a police state. Your right to privacy will be violated,” said Thomas.
A study conducted by the London School of Economics about a similar project in UK said it was not worth the money. “They scrapped their project,” Thomas said. Vinay Baindur, an independent researcher, said, “More time should be given to discuss and debate this problem, and concerns should be addressed.”
The group is planning to launch a countrywide campaign against the project.