Providing Aadhaar, the 12-digit unique identity number, to every homeless in the country, is proving to be a huge challenge, but non-government organisations (NGOs) working for the homeless and the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), the nodal agency responsible for running the Aadhaar programme in the country, are hopeful of achieving this goal.
Due to the lack of Aadhaar, the country’s homeless population is facing difficulties in availing benefits of government assisted social security schemes, including disabled and unemployment allowances, widow benefits, and old age assistance.
Recently, while hearing a petition on the lack of shelter homes and social security available for the homeless in Uttar Pradesh, the Supreme Court had asked the Central government and the UIDAI how they would provide Aadhaar to every homeless across the country.
According to the government’s definition, homeless or houseless are those who live in the open or on the roadside, pavements, in pipes, under flyovers and staircases, or in the open in places of worship, mandaps, railway platforms etc. They constitute 0.15% of the total population. In this scenario, the promise to provide Aadhaar to every homeless is challenging but not difficult, NGOs The Sunday Guardian spoke to, said.
Amod Kanth, who in 1988 formed Prayas, an organisation that deals with the delivery of welfare to the weaker sections of society in Delhi, said, “In Prayas, we have tried to follow UIDAI’s guidelines and till now, our NGO has helped over 5,000 homeless people get their Aadhaar numbers. For complying with the mandatory address proof clause of UIDAI, we give the Prayas shelter’s address as the proof of residence for these homeless people,” Kanth said.
Out of estimated 150,000 homeless in Delhi, hardly 7,000-9,000 are enrolled with the UIDAI for Aadhaar.
On the condition of anonymity, a senior UIDAI official said: “As per the norms, the UIDAI will collect similar demographic and biometric information that it takes from general citizens. However, for address proof, every homeless resident in Delhi who enrols for an Aadhaar number will be linked to the Homeless Resource Centre (HRC) of their respective district. The HRC address, along with a pocket code assigned during the survey which uniquely describes the location where the homeless usually spends the night, will be used to deliver the Aadhaar letter and continue any further communication with the homeless resident.”
Sunil Kumar Aledia, National Convener of the National Forum for Homeless Housing Rights, told The Sunday Guardian: “Out of estimated 150,000 homeless in Delhi, till today, the government has provided voter ID cards to only 11,000 people and hardly 7,000-9,000 homeless are enrolled with the UIDAI for Aadhaar. When this kind of situation is in Delhi, one can assume the condition of the homeless people in other cities of the country.”