In your interest.
Online Personal Finance Magazine
No beating about the bush.
According to India Against Corruption-IAC, the plot of land formerly owned by telecom department in Delhi which is now worth Rs900 crore was allotted to UIDAI’s headquarter at throwaway price by changing the land use plan
The Delhi Development Authority’s statutory board of enquiry has accepted a prayer by India Against Corruption (IAC) to scrap change of land use (CLU) for the headquarter of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI). Sarbajit Roy, the national convenor of IAC, had alleged that the valuable piece of land in New Delhi, worth Rs900 crore, was leased to Nandan Nilekani-led UIDAI at throwaway price using the CLU.
“After IAC highlighted that the land was a valuable piece of land being leased off for a pittance, it seems the DDA summoned the land allotting agency (L&DO). It also transpires that the possession of the land (formerly with the Department of Telecom-DoT) is now with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL). However, another state-run unit Mahanagar Telecom Nigam Ltd (MTNL) has laid claims over the land as it is in Delhi,” Mr Roy said.
The land was transferred to UIDAI at throwaway price due to the dispute between BSNL and MTNL, which is pending before the Delhi High Court, Mr Roy added.
At present UIDAI functions from an office in Jeevan Bharti Building in New Delhi’s Connaught Circus.
According to the petition filed by Mr Roy, the land allotted by the MUD to UIDAI was misinterpreted under Section 11 A of the Delhi Development Act. He said, “Several pieces of land meant for public or semi-public use have been engulfed by some ‘organisations’ and converted to government offices, the most brazen example has been the ‘Appu Ghar’.”
Mr Roy repeatedly mentioned that UIDAI is neither an ‘authority’ nor an institution set up by the law passed in Parliament and it operates on the basis of an executive notification. As per the notification, the Planning Commission was to be the nodal agency “for providing logistics, planning and budgetary support” and to “provide initial office and IT infrastructure”.
We have sent an email to officials of UIDAI and would incorporate their response, if any, in the story.
Here is the text of IAC's complaint alleging the UIDAI has been transferred prime public land in Central Delhi at throwaway rates in conjunction with Delhi's land mafia…
1) There is no reference to the specific site / land use of the modification in the present Master Plan, i.e. the so-called MPD-2021, or at least I am unable to find it in the MPD-2021 land-use plan available on the UDM website.
2) The public notice speaks of modifying the Zonal Development Plan for Zone-D. I say there is no such plan in existence. To the best of my knowledge, the ZDP-2021 for Zone-D is not in existence. The last I heard was that a known incompetent private planner, some Mr Ribiero or suchlike, had drafted up such a ZDP for the NDMC and DUAC to suit the land mafia, but it was so patently atrocious and self serving that it is yet to see the light of day. So please show me the referred ZDP-2021 for Zone-D as I am yet to see it. It is pertinent that I am a long time resident of Zone D which, unlike every other planning zone, has no ZDP and I fail to see why I am being discriminated against in planning issues.
3) I object that the lack of an up-do-date ZDP for Zone-D is allowing some organisations to swallow land notified for public and semi-public use and convert them into govt offices by misuse of section 11A. The most blatant such example being APPU GHAR which was swallowed by Supreme Court and DMRC, and in which all the public objections opposing the CLU were CORRUPTLY ignored by DDA. The SC used the land to sell to its advocates to set up private law chambers and the DMRC put up a tall commercial building to house some Railway Freight Corporation.
4) I object that there is no such "authority" known as UIDAI. The law to set it up is yet to be passed by Parliament, and the UIDAI is functioning, illegally, on the basis of an EGOM resolution whereby a private industrialist Shri Nandan Nilekani of INFOSYS was secretly appointed its Chairman without following due process and given the status of a Union Minister. I have established this under RTI, as I was the person who brought UIDAI within ambit of RTI as an extension of the Planning Commission. It is pertinent that when the Planning Commission received a copy of the CIC order in my case, they immediately asked Mr. Nilenkani and his team to vacate their offices within Planning Commission building within 48 hours. UIDAI then had to hire offices in Jeevan Bharati Building virtually overnight. The JPC (Joint Parliamentary Committee) has also objected to the UIDAI and said it is a useless body which should be scrapped.
5) It is thus clear that after I exposed UIDAI as being a fraudy outfit, they have managed to CORRUPTLY acquire a vacant plot of land in 2010-11 which is the subject of this CLU. It needs a CBI / CAG investigation as to who all in the Ministry of Urban Development or it's offices like L&DO / DDA etc. transferred the land which was Public/Semi-Public use in nature. It needs to be seen if the plot was acquired on commercial rates or it was a concessional allocation. The entire land acquisition / transfer file should be provided to objectors. There must be a CBI/CAG/ACB investigation into the modus operandi that the plot is acquired at a cheap rate and then the land mafia upgrades it to commercial use (UIDAI is a semi-PRIVATE concern) by bribing MUD officers and ministers of UPA govt. It is pertinent that Infosys has acquired a 1,000 sq yard plot in Vasant Vihar (Zone-F) last year for about Rs105 crore, so the land rate for a prime plot in Zone D should not be less than Rs20 lakhs per sq yard or about Rs900 crore for a 4,40 sq yard plot.
6) This CLU change will have significant alterations in local / site population density. Hence the CLU must be considered by the Central Government u/s 11A(2) only. The DDA has no role to play other than issuing the statutory notice. Members of the Authority have no role to play either, and their participation in any Board of Enquiry and Hearing is a breach of statutory provision, which shall be reported to the CBI and the ACB.
7) The UIDAI already has a massive Headquarter at Bangalore / Karnataka. I seem to recall that the ZDP/ MP2021 and the NCR plans not only mandate that no new Government offices are to come up in Delhi, but also that the existing ones are to shift out of Delhi. Therefore what kind of precedent is being set by such CORRUPT CLU public notices?
8) Please take clear notice that the citizens could not object when the DDA approved numerous spot CLUs to oblige the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court of India to grab land all over Delhi to accommodate their advocate's chambers only because their judges are a law unto to themselves under the Judges Inquiry Act and the SC judgments. However, for such corrupt CLUs like the instant one, DDA officers shall and will be reported to the CBI/CAG/ACB if they persist in rolling over to approve perverse CLUs to grossly favour semi-private irregular operators like UIDAI who are being facilitated to grab PUBLIC land at throwaway prices.
9) Not only is UIDAI so confident that their CLU will be approved, they have already conducted a design competition for their building - the winning bid for which seems to have a hugely tall structure well over the 15 meter height limit. It is thus clear that UIDAI / land mafia have advance information about impending Master Plan changes to allow this. This is also definitely a matter which falls for the CBI etc. to investigate considering that the sub-zone (which may be D4 or D5) is a low profile zone with many heritage structures. [http://www.architizer.com/en_us/projects/view/uidai-headquarters-at-delhi/40953/#.UdE7qpxR7Dw]
Now, you need not have an Aadhaar number to avail any benefits from Employee Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). Other than EPFO, schemes under ESIC have also been excluded from Centre’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) programme. Since Aadhaar has been introduced for distributing subsidies and grants, it would not be applicable to any provident fund schemes. Earlier, EPFO had asked its field officers to ensure that they collect the Aadhaar number of members joining on or after 1 March 2013 and those of existing members by 30 June 2013. EPFO had also decided to seek the Aadhaar numbers of its pensioners through their banks. According to the new notification, if the member does not have an Aadhaar number, the employer can issue him an enrolment ID as per the guidelines of EPFO which would be converted into an Aadhaar number later.
UK scrapped in 2010, its The Identity Cards Act, 2006, that was Aadhaar’s equivalent and aimed to capture 50 key data about each individual, including fingerprints, facial scan, iris scan and more. It did enough deliberations on the issue almost around same time as India. Reason for scrapping—“to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties”
Identities like Social Security Number (SSN), or National Insurance Number (NI) in the west, or Aadhaar now in India, promise to validate not just identity. Through identity as the master-key (index field in database technology), the respective security agencies can relate identity to past, present and future personal data. For example, PDS querying the Aadhaar database for identifying a citizen then digs into its own database to validate, if the said recipient had availed the benefit before.
To access The Dark Side of UID-I, please click here.
It is important to know that all such validation means and requires more data capture of all kinds for all seemingly legitimate purposes, so that such validations can be done against it. But each custodian of data—from front-end shopkeepers to ministries and more—also starts keeping copies of such data for validation, commercial use, corruption, stalking or just like that for the future. More data and more copies of data mean a death knell for privacy. Why create such targets of interest for vicious minds. Can the creator of such a Frankenstein monster absolve itself of such consequences merely because it was not the original intent but the creator failed to see the possibilities?
Both USA and UK had a huge hue and cry over possible ramifications of such invasion of privacy despite relatively mature, trusted, independent agencies, unlike India. Australia attempted national ID cards way back in 1985 but withdrew them in 1987 after severe opposition from all quarters.
UK scrapped in 2010, The Identity Cards Act, 2006, that was Aadhaar’s equivalent and aimed to capture 50 key data about each individual, including fingerprints, facial scan, iris scan and more. It did enough deliberations on the issue almost around same time as India. Reason for scrapping—“to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties”. Opinion polls and public reaction were opposed by the majority. 500 hard disks were shredded to destroy all data captured as part of the brief period of restricted implementation of the scheme. As a British politician said, “This marks the final end of the identity card scheme:
dead, buried and crushed…What we are destroying today is the last elements of the national identity register, which was always the most objectionable part of the scheme.”
On a similar note, there is a public outcry in the USA, in the aftermath of the Petraeus scandal. NSA whistleblower William Binney in a TV interview, said on the surveillance by US government, “They are building social networks on who is communicating with whom… social network of every US citizen is being compiled… .they are taking from one company alone 300 million records a day (for storage)…over time accumulated to close to 20 trillion every year… the original program that we put together to handle this was to be able to identify terrorists.” He also said that the original plan was to encrypt all mails and decrypt only those that met certain criteria of security risk. It is actually a lot easier and efficient for the intended purpose, but now it is much worse. (http://youtu.be/TuET0kpHoyM)
Every single tweet from twitter is archived in the US Library of Congress. Big data and the world’s best processors and servers run algorithms to not just identify terrorists but for all political purposes. It is at best a poorly kept secret.
There are eerie similarities between the ways the US government agencies track personal information, how it came into being quickly after 9/11 fears, how it was intended and where it is now at. The immense power the state gets through controlling such information is enough temptation for any ruler. We have seen through mass exposes on corruption in recent times that there is enough power-sharing between powerful elite of politicians. This includes the opposition, big businesses, bureaucrats and policing agencies. They buy out any resistance from any quarter.
The US attempt to have stronger identification systems (“Real ID” linking many IDs from driving license to SSN and more, in the aftermath of 9/11) was defeated as 25 of 50 states opposed it. Some of the irrefutable objections were:
Electronic Healthcare Records (EHR) in the US too aimed to create unified personal database of health history. Despite obvious efficiencies, it is not finding favour with the masses. The people do not trust corporate entities (who lobby with the government) with personal health histories.
Many argue that even without UID, it was not difficult for the state to ferret details of any individual. The whole point now is the ease, speed and volume of such actions. And the ease, speed and volume are not altered by increments but by order of magnitude. Getting the political dirty tricks department to scour files of activists opposed to government is so common today. Ramdev, Kejriwal, Anna, VK Singh, Vinod Rai, have all had possibly true, half-true and even false witch-hunts launched based on information dug up on them selectively and viciously. How can one trust such state with omnipotent powers of handling all personal data?
A lot has been said in the media criticizing the Aadhaar on multiple lines. I desist from repeating issues of risks with process, technology, costs, promised chimera of zero corruption in PDS and more (a complete and logical argument can be made on what to expect on the PDS front—and believe it or not, it makes no dent into corruption levels in PDS. Only form changes). It is not just the one-time costs either. It is a maintenance monster on the budget.
But I restrict and further extend arguments on privacy issues that are the most serious of the risks.
Apart from the state using information selectively against political opponents whether to buy votes in parliament, silence political opponents or power-mongering over citizens, corporates and global MNCs also have sufficient interest in prizing information of citizens.
An insurance service provider would be keen to get all personal information and then base its decision on them. This can be done with, or without, revealing the source of such information. Illegal or unethical, motives for such actions would be created by Aadhaar. Motives established, such acts are only a matter of time.
Similarly, any marketer would love to obtain such information to do targeted marketing. Companies want it and when demand exists, through bribery or legal means, such information would be public. Attending one such govt-industry event where entrepreneurs showcased their proposed business models riding on UID data, was, to say the least, scary in terms of threats to personal data privacy. Even today, most civil/ criminal cases in courts are fought on evidence of illegally obtained telephone bills, call records and bank/credit card details. Tomorrow there will be more and easier availability of proofs and a larger grey market trading in private information would emerge.
Moneylife is conducting a seminar on “Why UID/Aadhaar is a medicine worse than disease”, with no cost to you, in Mumbai, on 12 January 2013. Register now! For details on registration and the event, please click here.
The corporate sector has vested interests, short-sighted though, in supporting UID for the moolah it generates through the projects. That some of these companies/ partners working on projects have CIA directors on board and gather crucial biometric data is already voiced as a risk in itself.
It is also argued with good reason that by having such a lucrative database, we are creating incentives for wrong interests—from hackers to enemy nations. Probability is low or high is a premature question and not of primary concern. But given the risks, it is enough to worry about.
The way ahead is to raise public awareness and stall this costly and dangerous experiment by over-riding the vested interests of a few. Step by step, adding data agency by agency, and integrating link by link we are headed towards an Orwellian state that wishes to control all aspects of our lives. The benefits of not having such controls over our lives far exceed the restriction on our freedom. The world has studied, debated and moved on from the idea of unified personal ID. Indians should not allow ourselves to be the guinea pigs of the world.
Moneylife recently published a 9-part series on how and why Aadhaar is a bane more than a benefit. To read the complete analysis, click here.
(Sandeep Khurana is an independent consultant and researcher. Views expressed are personal. He can be reached at his twitter Id @IQnEQ.)