Srinagar: While Aadhaar cards are now seen as a pre-requisite for availing facilities like banking and subsidies, the process of acquiring the bio-metric identity is a challenging task in Kashmir.
Aadhaar cards are mandatory for transferring direct cash subsidies to beneficiaries, maintaining bank accounts, obtaining ration cards, and sim-card activation among others. Recently, the process of providing Aadhaar cards was restarted, but the arrangement made to complete the process is slow and tedious – putting consumers to great inconvenience.
In most parts of the Srinagar, ration to several families has been stopped till they provide their Aadhaar card information. Majority of the Srinagar residents, however, complain that they were trying to obtain Aadhaar cards but the process “is so difficult that it might take months” while the people continue to suffer.
Fayaz Ahmad, a shopkeeper at Karan Nagar said that the ration centres were asking for Aadhaar card information, which people don’t have. “I went to get the Aadhaar card, but they gave me a serial number (for biometric information recording). My number is going to come after at least couple of months,” he said.
Other parts of Kashmir have similar ordeal to narrate. At least 30 thousand people in Sopore town and its adjacent areas are still without Aadhaar cards. Traders, students and pension holders complain of facing immense hardships.
People in Sopore told Kashmir Reader that only one machine is being used to make Aadhaar cards for the entire town and its adjacent villages, and the machine makes only 20 cards a day.
President of the Traders Federation of Sopore, Haji Mohd Ashraf, said that the government has made Aadhaar cards mandatory for everything but the process of issuing it is such that the people will get Aadhaar cards after months.
At some places, entire villages have been left out. For example, in Adipora village of Sopore town, residents have already raised the issue with the concerned authorities, but no action has been taken. Villagers said they were told that Adipora area is not shown in the National Population Register (NPR).
The issue has affected as many as 500 families residing in the area, with most of them struggling to get benefits linked with Aadhaar cards.
An employee who deals with the issuing of Aadhaar cards at Municipal council Sopore, said that they have provided 400 new Aadhaar cards in the last month and half. He said that the process takes time and shortage of manpower and machines was leaving them unable to meet the demand. “We are only two employees and have one machine for thousands of population who demand cards. What can we do? You should ask IT department of Kashmir,” he said.
Sanuallah Bisati, a retired government employee, who was waiting outside the Aadhaar card processing station in Municipal Office Sopore, called the biometric card requirement a joke. “I don’t understand why they made Aadhaar cards so necessary when we have many cards available. How one machine and two persons can handle such a huge population, it’s seriously a joke,” he said.
“I have been given serial number 3007 and right now they are at 900. An average of 15 can get this procedure done in a day, so my turn will come after some months, a complete nonsense.”
When contacted, the Additional District Commissioner of Sopore, Khursheed Ahmad Shah, told Kashmir Reader that the Aadhaar card issuing process will take at least six more months as 30 thousand population needs to be covered.