Public distribution system: One nation, one ration card: We are creating a central repository of ration cards, says food secretary


Efforts are on to install ePoS devices in nearly all fair price shops across India to enable ration card portability, Ravi Kant, secretary, food & public distribution, tells Prerna Katiyar. Edited excerpts:

What is the One Nation One Ration Card system?

The purpose is nationwide portability in distribution of subsidised foodgrain to beneficiaries [under the National Food Security Act] without the need for them to get a new ration card. This will benefit to migrant workers, labourers and daily wagers, who change their place of dwelling in search of employment. Such ration card holders, through biometric authentication, will be able to buy foodgrain entitled to their families from any fair price shop in any state or Union territory using the same ration card issued to them in their home states.

If ration cards are duplicated, how will you check misuse?

The government is establishing a central repository of all ration cards, and data will be uploaded after national-level de-duplication of all beneficiaries. Thus, only those beneficiaries whose names are in the central repository after de-duplication would be able to take advantage of ration card portability.

If a beneficiary moves to a new location, how will the central database reflect that?

The existing ration card of a beneficiary remains valid under the portability plan since card data and entitlements are maintained in the person’s home state. However, with help from the integrated system of the central repository, the beneficiary’s state will be able to fetch or update data in real-time from its server after a PoS device-based biometric authentication.

Will foodgrain be allotted to fair price shops on a dynamic basis against the current practice of storing three months of stock?

According to interstate portability rules, some additional foodgrain, as advance, is allocated to states for further allocation to fair price shops as per their requirements to meet the demand.

How big is the challenge to instal PoS machines in all fair price shops?

So far, more than 80% of fair price shops have operational ePoS devices, and more than 75% of total electronic transactions are being done through biometric authentication every month. The remaining shops in a few states are being automated and ePoS devices are expected shortly. Only automating some shops in remote areas with poor connectivity may be a challenge.

In which states are you rolling out ration card portability?

The inter-state portability has already been started in four clusters [covering eight states]. It would be further rolled out in a few more states and integration of existing clusters would be achieved by January. Rollout in remaining states and UTs is planned during FY2020-21.

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