State suspends mandatory biometric authentication for ration withdrawal till May 31
State food and public distribution department has suspended mandatory biometric authentication for ration withdrawal under Public Distribution System (PDS) in wake of increasing cases of coronavirus infection in the state, officials said on Sunday. The order will be effective till May 31.
In a late evening tweet on Saturday, chief minister Hemant Soren said, “In view of Covid-19 infection in the state, distribution of ration will take place at PDS shops through OTP (one time password) system instead of biometric authentication till May 31.” Further decision on the same will be taken after reviewing the Covid-19 situation, officials said.
The department also issued a notification in this regard. Earlier, PDS dealers in the state demanded the government for temporary suspension of biometric system for ration withdrawal in wake of surge in cases.
President of Fair Price Shop Dealers’ Association (FPSDA), Jharkhand, Onkar Nath Jha said, “As many as 10 PDS dealers lost their lives due to the infection this April and over two dozen dealers are infected and undergoing treatment at various hospitals.”
He said the biometric system was being used in PDS for distribution of ration. Hundreds of consumers withdraw ration through their thumb impressions on a single biometric device, known as e-PoS machine, at PDS shops. “Hundreds of thumb impressions on a single machine raise threat of spread of infection,” Jha said.
More than 57 lakh beneficiaries were enrolled under National Food Security Act in the state. One PDS dealer deals with around 200-400 consumers, Jha said.
“We wrote to the Jharkhand chief minister on April 19 to withdraw the online system temporarily. Now, we will distribute ration through OTP authentication. When we will enter a person’s ration card number, the beneficiary will receive a fixed standard OTP,” Jha said.
The association, however, demanded government compensation to ration dealers on line of Rajasthan government. “In Rajasthan, ration dealers have also been considered as front line workers. The Rajasthan government announced ₹50 lakh compensation if any dealer dies of Covid-19 infection. We demand similar initiative for PDS dealers in Jharkhand,” he said.