After linking ration cards with Aadhaar numbers to check bogus entries, the Narendra Modigovernment is working on a system to ensure that new ration cards are issued only after a national-level “de-duplication” check. This initiative, taken by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution, is aimed at reducing corruption in the public distribution system.
“Once the proposed system becomes operational, new ration cards will be issued only after the national level de-duplication check is done. At present, the de-duplication check is being done in some states within their jurisdiction. We are planning to implement this at the national level by next year”, said Ravikant, Secretary, Department of Food and Public Distribution.
“We have asked states to share ration card data. Some of them have already shared desired details. We will aggregate this data into a national level database. It is expected to be done within a year. Once this is done, each new application of ration card will have to pass through the de-duplication process. New ration cards will be Aadhaar-verified and the proposed process will ensure that there is no existing ration card in the name and address of new applicant”, he told The Indian Express.
This move is important because earlier the government’s focus was on weeding out bogus rations by linking them with Aadhar of the beneficiaries. There are around 23.30 crore ration cards in the country of which 85 per cent have been seeded with Aadhaar numbers of the beneficiaries.
According to the Ministry, as an outcome of digitisation, a total of 2.98 crore ration cards were deleted or cancelled by State and Union Territories between 2013 and 2018. This resulted in reducing leakage and diversion in PDS.
At present, 75 per cent of rural and 50 per cent of the urban population is covered under the National Food Security Act, 2013. Based on this ratio, the accepted number of persons who are eligible to get subsidised food grains under NFSA, is 81.35 crore. Of this, 79.66 crore have been identified as beneficiaries as on September 3, 2019. There are still 1.69 crore people who need to avail of the benefits of NFSA and get new ration cards.
Under NFSA, there are two beneficiary categories; families covered under Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) entitled to get 35 kg food grains per month and Priority Households eligible to get 5 kg food grain per person per month. Announcing ‘One Nation, One Ration Card,” the government has set a target of nationwide portability of ration-card holders to receive subsidized foodgrains under NFSA from anywhere in the country by June 1, 2020.
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