Govt allows others to collect ration for those not able to authenticate info
The order has been issued to ensure that no PDS (public distribution system) beneficiary drops out of the safety net due to biometric failures, especially since ration shops in Delhi have implemented the e-POS (electronic point of sale) system under which a beneficiary can collect food grains after thumb or iris authentication
Ration cardholders who are unable to authenticate their biometrics to receive their monthly quota of subsidised food grains in the capital can now nominate others to collect it on their behalf, the Delhi government said on Monday.
The government’s food and civil supplies department issued an order to this effect on August 26,after its field officers reported biometrics authentication failure due to technical glitches at some of the fair price shops over the past one month.
Even those who cannot visit fair price shops due to old age or disability can also nominate others to collect their monthly quota of subsidised food grains, a senior officer in the department said on condition of anonymity. “The order has been issued to ensure that no PDS (public distribution system) beneficiary drops out of the safety net due to biometric failures, especially since ration shops in Delhi have implemented the e-POS (electronic point of sale) system under which a beneficiary can collect food grains after thumb or iris authentication,” the official said, adding, “The latest order will be very helpful for Delhi because the city is seeing one of the highest usages of portability of ration cards under the Centre’s one nation, one ration card (ONORC) programme.”
The latest order allowing beneficiaries to nominate ration collectors on their behalf came after the Centre wrote to the states to implement these steps to address e-POS-related grievances. Accordingly, the Delhi food and civil supplies department identified three categories of beneficiaries who could avail of the facility: a family with members all aged above 65 or below 16 and not in a position to visit the shops themselves; if all members of a family are suffering from leprosy, are differently-abled, bedridden, or affected by other diseases and impairments; and those families whose every member faces biometric authentication failure despite correct Aadhaar seeding. A nominee must have his/her ration card registered in the same fair price shop as that of the family designating him/her.
ONORC, introduced in 2019, aims to add digital muscle to the country’s public distribution system through which food grains are offered at subsidised rates to about 739 million beneficiaries under the national food security law. ONORC allows a beneficiary, such as a migrant worker, to access her share of subsidised ration from anywhere in the country regardless of the place where her ration card is registered. In other words, it allows the mobility of food entitlements.
The Delhi government implemented the ONORC scheme only on July 20 this year. Data showed that so far, at least 29,600 transactions have already taken place in the city under the scheme since its launch, making Delhi the state/UT having the highest off-take of subsidised grains for migrants from other states.
On July 27, a week after ONORC was launched in Delhi, HT had reported how many ration card holders returned empty-handed from fair price shops in south and east Delhi due to glitches in the e-PoS devices.
To prevent inconvenience, the government asked the fair price shops to put up boards outside to inform about machines not working.
In Delhi, people can get cheap grains from any of the 2,000 fair price shops. For this, the government has deployed 2,005 e-PoS devices across the capital to get ONORC going.
Meanwhile, experts said there are flaws in the government order.
“This recent order of the Delhi government shows a lack of both understanding and empathy. It says a nominee can only be allowed if the biometrics of all family members fail. What if the person whose biometrics match is the sole bread winner? Should they miss an income-earning opportunity to get ration? A simple bypass system should be put in place, based on self certification and verification,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, member of the Right to Food campaign which surveys FPSs in Delhi.