This is part of a technique called random picture matching

Next time a customer enters a ration shop, the shop-owner might just ask him to wait while he uses his cellphone to take his photograph. This is part of a technique called random picture matching and will be used by the Department of Food and Civil Supplies to weed out bogus cards and ineligible beneficiaries in the State.

How it works

The department will maintain a database of eligible beneficiaries. Food Inspectors and other officials will have access to the database.

On the other end, fair price shop-owners have to download an app on their phone, which will suggest, at random, which customer’s photo should be taken. The app will recognise all the members of a beneficiary family and not just the head.

The shop-owners have to take their phones to the tashildar’s office at the end of every month. The photographs will then be cross-checked with the database. If the shop-owner is found to have sold produce to bogus beneficiaries, he (shop-owner) will face action, which will include withholding of his allotment for the next month.

This is among several technological tools that the department will use to reduce irregularities, while issuing ration cards and distributing produce such as foodgrains. “We have set in motion the process to start using random picture matching,” Harsha Gupta, Commissioner, Food and Civil Supplies, told The Hindu. “We will help shop-owners buy low-end smartphones and use this application,” he said.

The second important intervention will be the convergence of data from various departments to weed out ineligible ration card holders.

The Food and Civil Supplies Department will cross-verify its database of BPL households with the databases of beneficiaries of Revenue Department’s social security schemes and of the Agriculture Department’s subsidy schemes.

“We will cross-check our household data with the National Population Register and the Election Commission data. We have already begun consultations with the officials concerned,” Mr. Gupta said.

This will not only help eliminate errors, but also act as third-party verification of the Food and Civil Supplies Department’s database, according to him.

The department will also begin using lorries fitted with GPS and GPRS devices to monitor their movement. “We will have level indicators inside kerosene lorries to monitor the quantity being carried. We will also have digital weighing scales for lorries that leave warehouses,” he said.

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