This Article is From Dec 02, 2010

Will Unique Identity Number derail NREGA?

New Delhi: Two of the UPA's flagship programmes, the Unique Identity Number project (UID) and Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme are on a collision course.

"I am not against technology, by I think linking the Unique Identity Number project to NREGA can be very dangerous," said Jean Dreze, Member , National Advisory Council.

Right now, all that a person needs to ask for work under NREGA is to fill up a form and get the address verified at the village, say by a sarpanch. But now the government proposes to include the UID as a necessary condition.

National Advisory Council member John Dreze, one of the people behind National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, says the Unique Identity Number cannot be made mandatory to get work under NREGA.

Jean Dreze says, "For a long time, many people may not get their UID's. And there will be total chaos in such a situtation. Also, why impose one more condition on the NREGA? Why not try this on a smaller scale first?

But others in the government, like the Planning Commission, say linking welfare schemes like NREGA to the UID is the way forward.

"No one can deny that initially there will be teething problems . But in the long-run, payment processes will become better because the central database will be more reliable," said Dr Mihir Shah, Member, Planning Commission.

At the moment, neither side is willing to climb down. Question is will the first UPA's pet project, NREGA, be derailed by UPA-2's flagship, the UID or the Aadhar programme.