'Smart cardwala Aadhaar and paperwala Aadhaar, all for Rs 1,000'
In spite of the government ban on all private bodies accepting documents to make Aadhaar cards, tiny illegal shops offering Aadhaar services for high prices thrive in Thane
If you thought Aadhaar cards were foolproof, think again. Despite the government ban on private bodies accepting documents to make them, an investigation by mid-day has found that tiny illegal shops that promise you an Aadhaar card for a fee, are rampant. While news reports have often highlighted this in the city and suburbs, mid-day has more proof of the unique identification number's vulnerability, this time in Thane.
The government has banned all private bodies from accepting documents to make Aadhaar cards. Aadhaar Seva Kendras (ASK) have been set up exclusively at government offices, such as post offices, banks (nationalised and private), the BSNL or MTNL building, etc.
The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) has set up exclusive ASKs as a single stop destination for all Aadhaar services for residents, but illegal private Aadhaar centres still operate in Thane.
The Thane Municipal Corporation's (TMC), branch number 7 in Manpada gives tokens only to 25 customers to update their Aadhaar cards.
Sonawane's shop where he charges Rs 1,000 to make an Aadhaar card
Barely 100 metres away, is 'Baba Aadhaar Centre,' whose owner Anil Sonawane updates Aadhaar cards for a fee, without checking relevant documents. Customers prefer to visit his shop as they don't have to wait in long queues to update their UIDAI cards.
At Baba Aadhaar Centre, one can update his/her address after giving Sonawane an affidavit which is illegal, as per the rule of UIDAI.
Illegal centres make a killing
"You will have to pay Rs 400 if you only want to change/update the mobile number. If you want to change the address in your Aadhaar card, you need to pay Rs 500. For this, you need to give me a notarised proof mentioning your address," Sonawane said on January 4 while talking to this reporter.
Anil Sonawane, Baba Aadhaar Centre
When this reporter asked him if the address can be updated if an affidavit is given, Sonawane nodded and said, "If you don't have address proof, get an affidavit of your address but you need to pay Rs 1,000." The real charge for updating an Aadhaar card is Rs 50.
"I will also give you one Smart cardwala Aadhaar card and paperwala Aadhar card. You don't need to visit anywhere. Ye sab 1,000 rupaye mein ho jayega (All this in Rs 1,000)," added Sonawane.
He said he has been using the machines (to update Aadhaar cards) for which he has to "pay a commission." "Also, there are two operators at my shop and I pay each R12,000. The rent of this shop is Rs 15,000. I am not overcharging. I have to run the shop, too," Sonawane said.
When mid-day asked if he also makes a fresh Aadhaar card if one does not have address proof, Sonawane got suspicious and said, "Dukaan par lekar aao."
Balaji Consultancy and Services opposite Lokmanya Nagar bus depot in Thane, has also been making and updating Aadhaar cards.
The shopkeeper said, "We charge Rs 300 for updating the mobile number in your Aadhaar card. You can visit my shop next week."
The shopkeeper at Balaji Consultancy and Services.
He justified the high charge saying, "Ye private Aadhaar centre hai, government ka nahi. Yaha 300 rupaye lagte hain. [This is not a government centre, this is a private Aadhaar centre]"
Charges at Aadhaar Service Kendra
UIDAI has defined charges to be paid by any resident wishing to avail Aadhaar Services at any Aadhaar Seva Kendra of their choice. These are:
- Aadhaar enrolment – Free
- Mandatory biometric update for kids (from age 5 to 15) – Free
- Any demographic or biometric update by residents – Rs 50
- To download Aadhaar and get a colour print – Rs 30
These charges are inclusive of any applicable taxes. Residents can make the payment at the cash counters at ASK or make an online payment (to be launched soon) at the time of booking an online appointment on the UIDAI website.
Government-approved Aadhaar Service Kendras non-functional
This reporter also visited government-approved ASKs in private banks, but none of them were functional. This could be one of the reasons why many people prefer to approach the tiny illegal shops to get Aadhaar cards or to make changes in them.
IndusInd bank, Ghodbunder Road
12:20pm, January 4
A banker here said the staffer concerned was unwell and all work related to Aadhaar card updation was on hold until he resumed work. Interestingly, he also said there was no token system there. "There is no token system to queue up for updating Aadhaar cards. You can come between 10.30 am and 4 pm on a working day and the person concerned, when he resumes, will help you," he said.
ICICI bank, Ghodbunder Road
12:35 pm, January 4
While the private Aadhaar card centres' rented machines seem to be working all right, here mid-day was told the machine had not been functioning for two weeks. Deputy Branch Manager Anju Goswami said she had informed the Reserve Bank of India about it. "It will take another 10-15 days to update the Aadhaar card here. You can visit nearby banks," Goswami said.
Kotak Mahindra Bank, Vasant Vihar Branch
1:40 pm, January 4
Here a banker said, "You need to visit the bank at 10 am when we hand out tokens to those who want to update their Aadhaar card. We issue only 25 tokens a day and the quota for today's tokens is over. Please come back tomorrow."
The queries mailed to General Manager, Media Communications and Public Outreach, UIDAI, Vikash Shukla, remain unanswered.
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