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HindustanTimes Tue,22 Jul 2014

Rs 80 lakh spent on smart cards for poor wasted: Audit dept

Vinod Kumar, Hindustan Times  Chandigarh, July 07, 2014
First Published: 08:16 IST(7/7/2014) | Last Updated: 08:17 IST(7/7/2014)

The administration’s audit department has said that Rs. 80 lakh spent so far on the implementation of a central government scheme for distribution of essential commodities to the poor through smart cards had been wasted.

The audit report states out that only 1.6 lakh ration cards were digitised against the target of 2.5 lakh and only around 45,000 smart cards were printed and distributed amongst Above Poverty Line (APL), Below Poverty Line (BPL) and the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) beneficiaries.

The plan was to complete digitisation in four months and prepare smart cards in another nine months.

“Due to poor planning and slow implementation of the scheme, card holders were deprived of benefits and the entire amount of Rs. 78.86 lakh utilised till now is wasteful
expenditure,” the report states.

WHAT WAS THE SCHEME?

For streamlining the functioning of the public distribution system (PDS), the administration had mandated that APL, BPL and AAY families would be able to draw ration only after enrolling for smart cards, from September 1, 2011. The timebound pilot project was to be completed in two phases.

In the first phase, the department had to digitise around 2.5 lakh existing ration cards within four months of the launch of the project. In the second phase, smart cards were to be made within nine months. The preparation of smart cards was outsourced to two IT companies.

The scheme was floated in Chandigarh as a pilot project by the government of India and a budget of Rs. 4.66 crore was earmarked for its implementation in 2008-09.

Of this amount, Rs. 1.1 crore was released in December 2008, as the first installment, of which Rs. 78.86 lakh had been utilised up to May 31, 2013, while Rs. 31.19 lakh remained unspent with the department of UT food & supplies and consumer affairs.

Danish Ashraf, joint secretary, food and supplies, maintained that they had completed the process, but had to launch a fresh survey to identify beneficiaries after enactment of the Food Security Act.

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