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Friday, Nov 15, 2019

‘One nation, one ration card’ pilot launched

The government is pushing states to link all ration cards across the country with Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric identity number, and states are switching to grain distribution.

india Updated: Aug 10, 2019 00:14 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The food security law, an anti-hunger legislation passed by the previous United Progressive Alliance government in 2013, grants the poor a legal right to cheap food.
The food security law, an anti-hunger legislation passed by the previous United Progressive Alliance government in 2013, grants the poor a legal right to cheap food.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
         

Beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act in four adjoining clusters of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana as well as Gujarat and Maharashtra will now be able to get their monthly quota of subsidized ration from their neighbouring state, a major policy change aimed at ensuring migrant households don’t lose out on their food allocations.

Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Friday launched the trials, dubbed “One Nation One Ration Card”, in these chosen districts, where beneficiary ration cards will essentially have inter-state validity.

“The country will move towards total nation-wide portability of ration cards, whereby its holders will be able to receive subsidized foodgrains under National Food Security Act from anywhere in the country by June 1, 2020,” Paswan told reporters.

The food security law, an anti-hunger legislation passed by the previous United Progressive Alliance government in 2013, grants the poor a legal right to cheap food. Beneficiaries receive 5kg of foodgrain per person per month at a subsidized rate of Rs 2-3 a kg.

The government is pushing states to link all ration cards across the country with Aadhaar, the 12-digit biometric identity number, and states are switching to grain distribution.

Use of ration cards issued in one state in another to withdraw foodgrains has been made possible by digitization of the entire chain of distribution – from warehouses to fair price shops where these grains are distributed.

“One Nation, One Ration Card” envisages linking data of all ration cards to a single server such that any beneficiary anywhere in the country will be able to draw their quota of foodgrains from any public distribution outlet of their choice.

Paswan said 11 states (Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana and Tripura) have already moved to a digital system where ration card holders within these states can get their ration quota from any of the designated fair price shops within their state. This means that if a beneficiary moves out of his home district to another, he or she will still be able to withdraw his or her quota of grains.

The major policy reform has come on the back of the country’s public food distribution system shifting to handheld point-of-sale devices at nearly 400,000 fair price shops. These devices record transactions in real time. Nearly 85% ration cards in the country have been linked with the Aadhaar numbers of their holders.