Ration shops caught in a Net trap

Customers forced to visit shops many times as poor connectivity affects distribution

The introduction of electronic Point of Sale (e-PoS) machines in ration shops was expected to streamline the distribution of food grains to beneficiaries. But slow internet connections and unstable networks have come as a roadblock as beneficiaries are now made to take several trips to the shop to get their monthly ration.

The absence of a manual alternative, as a means to ensure transparency, has compounded the problem.

Ration shops across the city, and in different parts of the State, moved into the Aadhaar-enabled online system a few months back as part of implementation of the National Food Security Act. The move was aimed at tracking effectively the distribution of grains to all beneficiaries and to prevent it from being diverted.

But the ride has been rough even in ration shops located in the core city area, where the Net connectivity is more stable compared to the outskirts. “The Net connection comes on and off. I cannot keep the people waiting, as we have no idea when it will be back. So I ask them to come back later. It is difficult for them to keep visiting the shop, but we do not have any alternative. We can disburse grains only through the online system. Last week, the connection got disrupted several times, compared to which this week is better,” says Hariharan, who runs a ration shop at Pattom.

Fingerprint issue

According to an official at the city rationing office, the connection issues are mostly due to migration to a new server and due to inclement weather conditions last week. “The data are being moved to a new server. The connectivity issues could be due to that. In the past two days, we got only one or two complaints of disruptions,” says the official. For many of the elderly men who run the ration shops in the city, getting acquainted with the technology has also been a challenge, after decades of doing it all manually. The fingerprints of older beneficiaries are also not easily detected by the machines. The owners often make them try the other thumb too, holding and pressing it down so that the prints are read correctly.

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Printable version | Mar 30, 2020 6:28:10 PM |

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