New Delhi: Union food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday that 100% beneficiary ration cards under food subsidy programme have been digitized so far, but only 65% have been seeded with the Aadhaar card due to slow performance by some states.
“While all ration cards have been digitized in the country, some states are slow in seeding them with Aadhaar card, which would help in eliminating bogus beneficiaries, Paswan said, urging the states to move faster. He added that 2.33 crore ration cards have been deleted in 27 states weeding out bogus beneficiaries.
Paswan was addressing a gathering of state food secretaries in the national capital to review the performance of the targeted public distribution system (TPDS), India’s largest subsidy programme with an annual outgo of more than ₹ 1.35 lakh crore.
To cut down on leakage of foodgrains, the Centre is using the Aadhaar unique identity number and focusing on end-to-end computerization of TPDS, as mandated under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013.
As per the NFSA, the Centre provides subsidized grains to about 67% of households at a rate of between ₹ 1 and ₹ 3 per Kg.
Paswan said that the ministry has given an ultimatum to two states, Kerala and Tamil Nadu on implementing the NFSA Act at the earliest.
“If the two states do not implement, we will take stringent action. One option we have is to supply APL (above poverty line) foodgrains to them at a higher rate or we completely stop the allocation. Let them buy foodgrains for APL families at the support price," he said.
C.R. Chaudhary, minister of state for consumer affairs, food and public distribution, urged the states to focus on timely procurement and disbursal of subsidies. “ States should go for scientific storage and all information regarding godowns must be computerized," he said.
Lack of information was another major issue that came up for discussion. “States must display all information on their portal, right from the number of Aadhaar enrolments done to ration cards seeded with Aadhaar," said Vrinda Swarup, food secretary.
According to a background note prepared by the food ministry, seeding of ration cards needs to be expedited in 19 states and union territories.
While Bihar, Assam and some north-eastern states have shown no initiative with less than 1% Aadhar seeding of ration cards, Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Telangana have completed the process.
With more than 90% of ration cards seeded with Aadhar, the process is nearing completion in Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
In eight states the progress is between 50% to 80%. These include Gujarat, Jammu & Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. In Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, the process is in initial states with seeding rate between 30% to 50%.
The note from the food ministry shows that so far 8.9 lakh beneficiaries in three union territories—Chandigarh, Puducherry, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli—are availing direct cash transfer of food subsidy.