Aadhaar-based PDS not likely to resume anytime soon, says Imran Hussain
The e-PoS ration distribution system in Delhi, which was suspended last year in the light of alleged leakages and reports of exclusion of beneficiaries, is unlikely to resume any time soon, Delhi food and civil supplies minister Imran Hussain said on Friday.
Electronic point of sale (e-PoS) is an Aadhaar-linked biometric-based authentication system for the efficient distribution of ration under the public distribution system. Delhi witnessed a trial run of e-PoS in the fair price shops between January and March 2018, but it was “temporarily suspended” by the Delhi government in April 2018 over alleged irregularities.
An official said the technology is also caught in litigation. “e-PoS was mentioned in several court cases pertaining to irregularities in the food distribution system. This led to several private entities involved in the manufacture of the machines becoming party to these cases,” said a senior government official said on the condition of anonymity.
Delhi’s food and civil supplies minister Imran Hussain said, “The loopholes in e-PoS have to be fixed. Unless we find an alternative, we will have to rely on the traditional ration distribution system. But we cannot compromise with the food distribution process. Considering the current circumstances, it (e-PoS) is unlikely to be re-introduced for ration distribution anytime soon.”
The e-PoS has been a subject of controversy since it was suspended and had led to a tussle between the AAP government and the bureaucracy. Earlier, Hussain had accused the food department of continuing with e-PoS till August 2018 despite being suspended.
In December 2018, the Delhi food and civil supplies department had said it would move the Supreme Court, challenging the AAP government’s decision to suspend e-POS, after the government did not respond to the food commissioner’s requests to restore e-POS. That, however, did not materialise. The food commissioner himself was suspended by the government around the same time over a case of irregularities in the public distribution system.
The idea behind the Aadhaar-linked e-PoS system was that it would provide comfort to the disabled beneficiaries who were facing problems in accessing the shops. The beneficiaries will have the option to nominate a person who will be able to draw ration after due verification. To make the overall ration distribution system flexible, a ration card holder can avail ration from any shop in the city, provided that his/her biometric data matches the official record.
In February this year, Hussain had said that the existing e-PoS system has “serious irregularities and shortcomings” and urged Union minister for consumer affairs to get it investigated through the Delhi lieutenant governor.