Forget train travel Assam, Aadhaar to be compulsory for railway tickets!

The policy makers are expected to know their job well. In what can be termed as myopic vision of the policy makers, the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) has decided to make Aadhaar mandatory for booking train tickets. Ironically, the idea, which was green-signalled by the Prime Minister’s Office, can’t be implemented in Assam as Aadhaar cards are yet to be issued in the state.

The IRCTC has set 2016-end as its target to launch Aadhaar-linked ticketing services to increase transparency in bookings. The corporation aims to introduce the facility in phases, and senior citizens will be the first “beneficiaries” of concessional fares under the system. IRCTC has already started linking its database with Aadhaar data. So, come December and senior citizens from Assam will start facing difficulties in booking concessional tickets as the IRCTC servers won’t accept Aadhaar-less booking!

IRCTC Chairperson and Managing Director AK Manocha said, “We have started the process to issue Aadhaar-based ticketing, and it’s likely to be rolled out by December this year. People will now have to provide their Aadhaar numbers when registering with IRCTC. This will check fraudulent booking by touts.”

When Eastern Feed tried to sign up to IRCTC on September 13, the sign up form asked for Aadhaar number including PAN, although both were marked optional. If it is made mandatory to provide Aadhaar number while signing up, forget booking, people from Assam will not be allowed to sign up at the IRCTC website.

Manocha said, “The reason we have not covered unreserved category yet is that we don’t have the data on the commuters travelling in unreserved coaches. Aadhaar will make this possible.”

Although the objective behind the Aadhaar-linked ticketing system looks decent (I am not commenting on the PRIVACY concern as yet), the fact that a large number of people are yet to get the cards makes it a decision taken under myopic vision. And more so when the state of Assam is yet to adopt Aadhaar, how can the Railways take such a step.

What an aadhaar-less decision. God bless policymakers!

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Jayanta Deka is a Guwahati-based journalist with more than 5 years of experience working with the Times of India. Tracking new media, technology and politics interest him. He can be reached through: