New Delhi: The ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution on Monday said around 39% of the existing ration shops across the country have been equipped with point-of-sale (PoS) machines which facilitate debit card transactions (including RuPay cards).
According to a statement released by the ministry on Monday evening, out of a total of around 5.26 lakh fair price shops (FPS) in the country, 2.04 lakh shops have PoS machines and close to 78% ration cards have been seeded to Aadhaar.
The ministry is also pushing for adoption of digital payment mechanisms such as Unified Payments Interface (UPI), unstructured supplementary service data (USSD), e-wallets and Aadhaar-enabled payment system (AEPS) for ensuring better transparency and accountability.
“PoS machines are being installed and ration cards have been linked with Aadhaar number, which has helped to eliminate 2.33 crore duplicate ration cards so far. PoS machines have been installed in 2.4 lakh PDS shops out of 5.45 lakh shops," PTI quoted consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan as saying on Monday.
“To promote the use of less-cash/digital payment mechanisms, the Department has issued detailed guidelines for use of AEPS, UPI, USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data), Debit/Rupay Cards and e-Wallets on 7 December 2016. At present in 10 States/Union territories a total of 50,117 FPSs are enabled for digital payments," the statement added.
This is in line with the recommendations of Watal Committee on Digital Payments which suggested that deployment of Aadhaar PoS or micro-ATM devices should be accelerated as it would enable a large population with Aadhaar to transact digitally. “RBI has already done studies and Government of AP (Andhra Pradesh) has already conducted pilots for people to pay at the PDS shops using Aadhaar enabled PoS/Micro-ATMs," said the report submitted by the Watal Committee on 9 December.
On 8 February, the Centre had issued a notification under the Aaadhar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, which requires over 800 million beneficiaries to furnish their Aadhaar numbers to avail subsidised food.
In February, Gujarat became India’s first state to establish a cashless system in its foodgrain PDS. The state government has installed AEPS in around 17,250 fair price shops to ensure that those eligible for subsidised foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) only need their Aadhaar numbers to collect their rations.
The Supreme Court will hear a plea challenging the Aadhaar Act and mandatory use of the unique identification number in at least 17 government schemes on 17 May.