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Don’t deny PDS foodgrains to non-Aadhaar beneficiaries, Centre tells States

Fingerprint of a customer is verified at a PDS shop in Hyderabad. File

Fingerprint of a customer is verified at a PDS shop in Hyderabad. File   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Union government has instructed the States not to deny the public distribution system (PDS) benefits to any one who does not have Aadhaar or has not linked his ration card to the number and warned of strict action on violation of the directive.

The Centre also asked the State governments not to delete eligible households from the list of beneficiaries for non-possession of Aadhaar.

An instruction in this regard was issued this week to all the States, after a 11-year-old Jharkhand girl recently died of alleged starvation after being allegedly denied PDS ration.

Activists' charge

Activists have alleged that the girl in Simdega district died of starvation as her family’s ration card was cancelled since it was not linked to Aadhaar.

In the directive, the food Ministry has clarified that deletion from the ration card database can only happen after a proper verification establishes “beyond reasonable doubt” that an entry pertaining to the cardholder is not genuine.

Also read: Another starvation death in Jharkhand; administration denies

State field functionaries have been asked to ensure that beneficiaries are not turned away on the ground of non-possession of Aadhaar, and all exceptions in this regard are recorded in a separate logbook.

When contacted, Ajay Bhushan Pandey, CEO of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), told PTI, “The intention is to ensure that no one is denied any food benefits for lack of Aadhaar, lack of linking, or technical difficulty in biometric authentication. As long as a person is genuine, he has to be given the benefit, in this case, ration.”

 

The States and the Union Territories will have to make arrangements to provide Aadhaar enrolment facilities to those without Aadhaar and link their Aadhaar numbers with their ration cards, the Ministry said. It cautioned that strict action would be taken if provisions of the notification are violated.

As per the National Food Security Act, the States have been given deadline till December 2017 to link Aadhaar with ration cards. So far, 82% of the ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar number in the country.

The Ministry directive mentions that till such time Aadhaar is assigned to the beneficiary, subsidised foodgrains will have be given on production of ration card, enrolment slip and other stipulated documents like election card.

Irrespective of whether all members of an eligible household have Aadhaar, full quantity of subsidised foodgrains or cash transfer of food subsidy upon fulfilling the requirements laid down will have to be extended.

Similarly, even in the case of failure of biometric authentication due to a technical glitch or poor biometric quality, the beneficiary will have to be provided the benefits on physical production of Aadhaar card along with the ration card.

Also read: Don’t make Aadhaar mandatory for food subsidy, say activists

All these cases — namely those without Aadhaar, Aadhaar not linked to ration card, or failure of biometric authentication — where benefits are being extended, will have to be recorded separately as “exceptions” by the fair price shop dealer.

Further, the States will have to devise a mechanism of monthly audit and inspection, including field verification of such “exceptions” to guard against any “misuse”.

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 9:28:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/dont-deny-pds-foodgrains-to-non-aadhaar-beneficiaries-centre-tells-states/article19924966.ece

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