The government is working on a proposal to issue multi-purpose smart identity cards to all adult citizens by the end of 2013, a move that could result in cost savings for the exchequer. "The proposal has been made under Citizenship Act amendment made in 2003. The Registrar General of India has proposed to issue smart identity cards to all citizens of the country above 18 years, which is under consideration by the Department of Expenditure," a senior official of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner (RGCC) said.
These cards can be also used in the place of ration, toll and election cards, among others, resulting in lower costs for the government, as a single card could serve various purposes rather than a separate ones for each service. The official said adults constitute approximately 65 per cent of the country's population and the government estimates that each smart card will cost about Rs 50.
"The final cost will be decided based on the recommendation received from the technical committee which has been set up under the Director General of NIC, B K Gairola," the official said. He added that the recommendations from the technical committee are expected to be out by October-end.
Among other things, the proposed smart identity cards will carry Aadhar numbers issued by the Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI), photographs, biometric data like finger prints and an iris scan of the card holder on an electronic chip. According to industry experts, these cards could be used by the state and the central government to replace various other cards and even the cost of each card can brought down.
"Both the state and central government can use these smart cards to provide a variety of services. Multi-purpose smart cards have the potential to work for several applications such as ration cards, toll cards, election cards or citizen ID cards or any application you can think of," smart card and biometric market expert S Swarn of Electronics Today said.
Swarn added that cost of cards can also go down if government applications are loaded on the same card, rather than issuing a separate smart card for each individual application. Last week, Registrar General of India C Chandramouli said the government will start the distribution of approximately eight million smart identity cards in 3,331 coastal area villages in the next two months. "The basic objective of issuing these cards is to identify citizens of the country and check infiltration. However, more can be done with these cards," the official said.