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Aadhaar-enabled devices keep ghost ration card holders at bay in UP cities

At least 10% of the urban ration card holders have not been collecting subsidised food grains since the state government installed Aadhar-enabled electronic point of sale devices at fair price shops in cities a year ago.

lucknow Updated: Jan 23, 2018 13:07 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations,Uttar Pradesh,PDS food grains
The ghost beneficiaries are apparently created by the fair price shop owners to divert ration to the open market for their gain. (HT Photo)

At least 10% of the urban ration card holders have not been collecting subsidised food grains since the state government installed Aadhar-enabled electronic point of sale (ePoS) devices at fair price shops in cities a year ago, food and civil supply commissioner Alok Kumar said.

“Maybe, they are ghost beneficiaries created by the ration shop owners,” he added.

The ghost beneficiaries are apparently created by the fair price shop owners to divert ration to the open market for their gain.

He said the department has already eliminated 1.50 lakh fake rations cards, replacing them with genuine ones in cities after installation of the ePoS devices at over 13,000 ration shops in urban areas. There are around 3.40 ration card holders in UP, including both urban and rural areas.

The number of such beneficiaries no longer claiming rations from the PDS shops is higher in the cities under the Meerut, Moradabad, Bareilly and Kanpur divisions.

“We will soon launch a door-to-door survey to identify the beneficiaries who have not collected their provisions for the last three months together and take steps accordingly,” said Kumar.

The results are expected be even better when all the beneficiaries become Aadhaar-linked. At present, 30% of them are still not linked to Aadhaar.

An Aadhar card-enabled public distribution system involves installation of ePoS devices equipped with biometric authentication at ration shops. Transactions are conducted digitally through the device. The identity of the beneficiaries collecting ration are authenticated via Aadhar or a one-time pass word (OTP).

Even if the shopkeeper tries to skip authentication, the beneficiary will get an SMS alert on his registered mobile number, informing him of the transaction. The ePoS was started as a pilot project in Lucknow in mid-2016. It was gradually extended to other cities.

AADHAAR-LINKED PDS IN VILLAGES ALSO SOON

Encouraged by positive results in cities, the state government is gearing up to install the ePoS devices at all the 67,000 public distribution system (PDS) shops in villages too very soon. The move is expected to plug leakages in a big way.

“The request for a proposal seeking firms to implement the ePoS project in villages is ready and will be floated soon after it gets the Cabinet’s nod,” principal secretary, food and civil supply, Nivedita Shukla said. The installation of the devices at the PDS shops in villages might start by June.

Uttar Pradesh is among the states where the diversion/pilferage of the PDS food grains is said to be very high.

A study published by the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) in 2014 shows 50% of the PDS food grains was diverted or pilfered in UP. In absolute quantity, this was found to be the highest in the country.

First Published: Jan 23, 2018 13:07 IST