Mobile subscribers who are yet to link their numbers with Aadhaar can do so from the comfort of their home from January 1 using a voice-guided system that would complete the process through a one-time password (OTP). This facility, however, will come nearly a month and a half behind the original target date to roll out a convenient OTP system for customers. The delay follows confusion and tussle between Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and telecos.
With the government asking mobile subscribers to link their numbers with Aadhaar following security concerns raised by the Supreme Court, a large number of subscribers began the process. However, soon there were complaints that it was proving difficult to complete the process by visiting the customer centres of mobile companies. Over 50 crore subscribers have still to get their numbers confirmed. Subscribers have till the first week of February to get their numbers verified, failing which their connection may be disconnected. An OTP-based system is seen as the most convenient route for mobile subscribers to get their numbers linked with Aadhaar, especially as they get rid of hardships in the existing system where biometric machines have not functioned properly at outlets of mobile companies sometimes, or centres are located at a distance.
In the OTP system, a subscriber needs to call the Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) from his mobile number, and can complete the process in English, Hindi and several regional languages. The subscriber will then need to give the consent for verification with the Aadhaar number, following which he/she receives an OTP that will be used for completing the process. Once the OTP so keyed in is verified to be correct, the number is verified within a certain period of time
While the simplified process looks all set to be rolled out from the new year, it follows a war of words between UIDAI and the telecom companies and their lobby group, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). COAI has accused UIDAI of prematurely announcing commencement of the OTP-based process, once from November 15, and then from December 1. “This was done even though the telecom department, UIDAI and the (telecom) industry were still under discussions on the OTP-based process… the telecom companies have in the past represented to UIDAI that in order to implement the OTP-based process, the present Customer Acquisition Form (CAF) would be required to be modified.”
Telcos said they required at least 4-6 weeks time to make suitable changes once it was allowed by the telecom department. The permission was finally granted on December 1. UIDAI officials said there was no delay on their part and “it was rather the mobile companies that had been dilly-dallying”. They refused to come on record on the matter.