The Maharashtra government will link ration cards with Aadhaar data in the hope of weeding out bogus beneficiaries and curbing pilferage in the public distribution system.
To encourage those below the poverty line to enrol for Aadhaar, the food and civil supplies department has offered an incentive of Rs 100 per enrolment.
After putting the existing data online, and making it accessible to the entire department, it has now launched a programme to collect more information on beneficiaries.
The department released Rs 82.22 lakh for the printing of forms seeking information such as bank account number, IFSC code of the bank and Aadhaar number.
Once compiled, the department is planning to replace the existing ration cards with smart cards, which will have detailed information about the utilisation of the rationing quota, the member of the family who obtained the stock, and so on.
Maharashtra has 7.01 crore beneficiaries covered under the Food Security Programme. However, a large number of fake ration cards, mostly misused by rationing dealers during distribution, led to the loss of crores of rupees to the state coffers.
The department believes that the new initiative will help it plug the leakage in the system.
“We have launched a pilot project in three villages where the biometric mechanism has been monitoring consumption of beneficiaries,” a department official said.
“The number of beneficiaries has come down by 25% as many were fake cards,” he said.
Gorakh Avhad, the state coordinator of rationing, Kriti Samiti, said, “I am sceptical as deserving beneficiaries could be left out of the scheme as obtaining an Aadhaar card has become very difficult.”