Attempt to eliminate bogus ration cards, bills: Jayalalithaa

The State government has proposed to issue biometric smart cards during 2012-13, by replacing the existing family cards, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa informed the Assembly on Friday.

Intervening in the debate on the demands for grants to the Cooperation, Food and Consumer Protection Department, she told the House that the validity of the existing family cards was December 31, 2011.

As family cards were now being issued without any unique mechanism to identify duplication of members in more than one place, this eventually resulted in duplication of the registration of members as well as the issue of bogus ration cards. Further, bogus bills were being prepared in fair price shops for family cards that had not been brought there.

To eliminate this, it was proposed to replace the existing family cards with biometric smart cards.

The Director of Census Operations under National Population Registry was conducting biometric capturing of 10 fingerprints and irises of citizens to issue unique identification numbers. On completion of this process it was proposed to adopt the data for issue of biometric smart family cards. The advantage was that since the data would be subjected to de-duplication, the problems of duplication of registration, bogus cards and billing would be eliminated, she said.

Food Minister Budhichandiran informed the House that the 2011 Census projected the State population at about 7.21 crore, whereas as per ELCOT ration card database, the total number of family members was around 8.37 crore. The difference of nearly 1.16 crore was due to duplication of names of persons in different cards and ghost or bogus cards. As the government incurred subsidy of Rs.2,400 per card per year, the removal of bogus cards had become imperative.

A 100 per cent door-to-door verification for all the cards was conducted and after following due process, 14.29 lakh family cards had been eliminated in 31 districts. Another 2.65 lakh family cards had to be eliminated in Chennai. The drive to eliminate bogus cards would continue.

Food subsidy

The issue price of essential commodities under the Public Distribution System was significantly lower than those fixed by the Union government. As a result, the State government had to provide increased subsidy to the Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation. The subsidy was likely to increase this year on account of rice being supplied free of cost.