Karnataka

Govt. plans RFID chips in foodgrain bags to track their movement

A file photo of a Food and Civil Supplies Department warehouse in Ramanagaram district.

A file photo of a Food and Civil Supplies Department warehouse in Ramanagaram district.

In yet another attempt to prevent pilferage of foodgrains from the public distribution system, the State government is contemplating having a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip in each bag to track the movement of foodgrains from warehouses to PDS shops.

Each RFID chip, to be dropped into the foodgrain bag, costs around 25 paise, sources said, adding that the government had estimated that around 4 lakh RFID chips could be required each month when the foodgrains are distributed to the PDS shops.

“We have discussed the use of RFID chips in the bag and we will use them. They are not too expensive and also enable us to track the movement better,” Food and Civil Supplies Minister Umesh Katti confirmed to The Hindu.

470 cases

According to data furnished by the department, in 2021-22, in as many as 470 cases where PDS foodgrains had been diverted to black market, 440 FIRs had been registered and 781 people have been arrested. The seized foodgrains included about 54,000 quintals of rice and broken rice, about 1,000 quintals of wheat, and about 600 quintals of jowar/ragi. This includes one of the biggest hauls in Bangarpet during June 2021 when nearly 9,800 quintals of rice was seized.

Food and Civil Supplies Department sources said that the RFID chips are being introduced as the department had been unable to track the movement currently, and that it had become a hindrance in court cases. “Due to lack of proper evidence, the government is losing cases. Though the tender document insists on transport vehicles to have GPS so that the lorries transporting the foodgrains can be tracked, it is not being followed properly. We are now insisting on GPS in lorries too. Along with this, the RFID tag works well. All these were discussed in a meeting recently,” sources said.

In Karnataka, about 4.3 crore people holding the Antyodaya and Priority House Hold or the BPL card are the beneficiaries of the PDS. About 2.17 lakh tonnes of foodgrains are distributed every month.

Big diversions

Sources said that some quantity of raw rice of good quality from the PDS is getting diverted, and in some cases, such diverted stock has been exported too after polishing. Big diversion of rice from the PDS to the rice mills had been detected in Kolar, Tumakuru, Mandya, Raichur, and Bengaluru, sources added.

While an investigation and vigilance squad has been set up to monitor the movement of PDS foodgrains, a similar squad proposed at the district level was yet to take shape, sources said.


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Printable version | May 27, 2022 12:43:13 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/govt-plans-rfid-chips-in-foodgrain-bags-to-track-their-movement/article65463218.ece