The move is aimed to root out fraudulently obtained connections.
The Aadhar card is fast becoming the government identification for a range of services. While Aadhar had already been made a mandatory requirement for opening bank accounts, filing income tax returns, getting a driving license or an LPG subsidy, the Indian government has now done the same for mobile phone connections as well. According to the statement issued by the Department of Telecom (DoT), it is now mandatory to link your existing mobile numbers to Aadhaar, latest by February 6, 2018. And going forward, anybody requiring a new mobile connection will be unable to do so without an Aadhar card. To that effect, all telecom operators have been instructed to re-verify their existing subscribers, prepaid and postpaid, through an Aadhaar-based eKYC process.
While the Aadhar eKYC is applicable for old as well as new connections. It’s also not restricted to connections used for calling services, but others as well. Even connections used only for Internet, as well as data cards or dongles providing Internet services, without any incoming or outgoing call facilities, would now need to be linked to your Aadhar card.
The order was issued by the Supreme Court on February 6, 2017, providing a year for the entire process to be completed. The move is reportedly aimed at discovering rogue users who have fake mobile subscriptions. The statement by the DoT said, “All licensees shall intimate their existing subscribers through advertisement in print/electronic media as well as SMS about the orders of the Supreme Court for re-verification activity and shall upload the complete details of this activity on their website.”
Once a telecom operator has physically verified that the SIM card is with the subscriber, the operator would send a verficiation code via SMS, which the customer would have to provide during the eKYC process. Once that is done, the operator needs to send another SMS to the customer letting him know that the verification is complete.
With roughly one billion mobile users in the country, the entire process is estimated to cost the telecom operators around Rs 1,000 crore. Now while the move is backed by the Cellular Operators Association of India, the problem is that this expenditure will have to be borne by the operators themselves, which would deal a huge blow to their revenues. That, however, is not all.