Banks, ration shops, network operators and occasionally, even hospitals demand for Aadhaar numbers for their services. And with the (current) deadline to link bank accounts and phone numbers with the Aadhaar card approaching, enrolment centres have become overcrowded.
At the Unique Identification Authority Of India (UIDAI) centre at the Pragati Maidan metro station, people begin to line up from 4:30 AM, while the centre opens at 9 AM. Shiv Kumar, who works as a daily wage laborer, was standing in the line from 5 AM. He said, “I came all the way from Rohini to make my Aadhaar card. I hope I will be able to make it today.”
With numerous authorised centres, the enrolment process should have been running with ease. However, this is not the case. Tales and allegations of corruption are making the process inefficient.
The UIDAI asked the states to ensure that all enrolments, even those run by private agencies, are shifted to government premises from the external sites by September 2017. But many private shops have seemingly found illegal ways to continue their businesses.
The owner of a shop located in JJ Colony, New Delhi, who does Aadhaar card enrolment told us, “We and the operator share half of the profit. He is stationed to enrol people at a Bank located in Uttar Pradesh, but he does not go there. Instead, he sits at our shop and earns a decent amount of money. We usually charge ₹400 for an enrolment or upgrading.”
Irshad Ahmad, who updated the address on his Aadhaar card from that shop, told us, “I went to a few banks, but they told me to come after a month, as they are booked. So I went to the shop – they charged me ₹450. Paying this much of an amount is very difficult for poor people like me. I just work as a tailor and earn ₹300-₹400 per day.”
Arvind Kumar, who is an Aadhaar card operator and also works at the Andhra Bank in Dwarka Sector-10, told us, “Many customers complain to us about other authorised centres which are not enrolling people and are making excuses to them instead. The bank managers are aware that the operators are sitting in private shops, and that they themselves are involved in this. We have to update our machines’ location in every 3 days and the bank managers get the email regarding that – so the managers must be getting their cut. And because of such banks, we get overcrowded. We do 25 enrolments per day to avoid congestion. And currently, we have been given a Aadhaar-linking deadline till March 31, 2018.”
A bank located in Sector-6, Dwarka, which is an authorised enrolment centre, was not doing the enrolments. When asked why they weren’t doing it, a bank official started giving the excuse that the zonal office had not provided any instructions. But when we confronted the zonal office, they said, “We have provided all the instructions and software. We look into this matter and will contact the bank manager regarding this.”
Sheetal who works as a domestic help in Dwarka, New Delhi told us, “I had to pay ₹400 to a private shop to make my son’s Aadhaar card, as we had to submit it to the school immediately for my son’s admission. The bank staff told me to come after March 31.”
Banks have set up a limit to entertain at most 25 customers daily to avoid overcrowding. We also found out that a few banks are booked till March 31, as they have already distributed the tokens. So, the customers come according to the date mentioned on their tokens. And the customers who did not take the tokens on time are left with two options – either to wait till March 31, or to pay a hefty amount to private shops. “This inefficiency is caused because of the banks (which are authorised centers) not enrolling people and allowing the operator to sit in their private shops just to make some extra money,” Arvind Kumar said.
While a few operators are not even sitting at the banks, there are others who sit there while staying in contact with private shops which send the customers to them. These people makes the Aadhaar cards immediately, without giving the customers any dates. The operator does not ask for extra money for getting the work done early, as he fears that the customer may file a complaint against him. A prime example of this is a shop located in Pitampura, New Delhi, which sends customers to authorised centres while charging ₹600, the operator of the centre gets his share and enrols the customers without giving them any dates.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.