Biometric cards save grain worth Rs. 20 cr. a month

Issue of biometric bar-coded ration cards to households in the last few months by the Food and Civil Supplies Department has helped eliminating nearly 8.5 lakh bogus ration cards from PDS.

Besides checking pilferage of foodgrains, the issue of such cards to 74 lakh households in the Sate has saved foodgrains worth Rs. 20 crore a month, which otherwise reaches to bogus ration card holders, according to officials in the Food and Civil Supplies Department. The Government annually spends nearly Rs. 800 crore for food subsidy.

After the Union Government began a drive to check hoarding of foodgrains and pilferage, the State Government has gone in for a tie-up with the Bangalore-based Comat Technology to overhaul the functioning of the PDS. The company's target is to issue laminated ration cards to 1.24 crore families in the State. Bar code is like a smart card, which stores information regarding the head of each family and also his/her thumb impression.

Photos of all family members are printed on the card. The biometric system was introduced to check bogus ration cards that are rampant across the State. The cards will have details such as ration shop number, residential address of the family, district and taluk offices.

Five-year project

Under the five-year project, the department has already spent Rs. 50 crore for executing the project and to issue biometric ration cards. Now, it has proposed to set up point-of-sale (POS) devices in all fair price shops in the State by inviting global tenders.

POS would be linked to electronic weighing machines, which would eliminate inaccuracy in weighing foodgrains such as rice, wheat and sugar by owners of ration shops.

“Under the system, the ration can be issued in instalments and the closing balance is automatically available,” the official said. The effort was to make sure that foodgrains reach the people without pilferage and technology would help in effective monitoring of the movement of goods. “And at the click of the mouse, we will be able to access information from all centres,” an official said.

“The scheme is designed to ensure that the right beneficiary gets the desired amount of foodgrains and other benefits,” he said.

The biometric bar-coded ration cards can be used for various purposes. The Health Department has been using it for identifying beneficiaries under the Vajpayee ArogyaSri Yojana in Gulbarga division to provide free medical treatment, including surgery, to below poverty line families.

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