The project will be executed through BEL

The Union government has agreed to the State government proposal to implement the biometric family cards project.

The Rs.300-crore project envisages taking up biometric capture of data regarding beneficiaries of the public distribution system (PDS).

A few weeks ago, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram sent a letter to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, conveying the Centre's approval.

The project will be executed through Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), says an official. The agency was chosen by the Centre. According to the Policy Note of the Food and Consumer Protection Department this year, there are about 1.96 crore family cards, of which rice option cards account for 1.84 crore. About 10.7 lakh cards belong to the category of white cards, which are entitled to all commodities except rice.

Around 60,000 cards are meant for police personnel and ‘no commodity' cards account for around 62,000.

The State government had, in its proposal submitted to the Registrar General of Census, conveyed to the Union government that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) standards would be met. It had also agreed to coordinate with the UIDAI before issuing new cards. As of now, the validity of family cards has been extended up to June 30, 2011.

The official explains that data collected by the State government will be shared with the Union government.

Originally, there was a thinking of drawing data from the Centre for family cards when the Census operations were taken up. But, the Central authorities had indicated to the State government that it would take three years for providing the final data. The official adds that State government officers will shortly hold a meeting with Census authorities to finalise the modalities for implementation of the project.