New Delhi: With Aadhaar numbers becoming mandatory for availing benefits of the targeted public distribution system (PDS), the government plans to use Aadhaar-enabled point of sale (PoS) machines to ascertain the identity of a beneficiary as well as a cashless payment option.
“We will be using the 20 lakh Aadhaar-enabled PoS machines for ration delivery. All the ration delivery mechanism in Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Rajasthan has completely become Aadhaar-enabled," Ravi Shankar Prasad, law and IT minister said at a press conference.
To give a major push to Aadhaar-based transactions, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said in his budget speech that two million biometric or Aadhaar enabled PoS machines will be installed by September.
On Wednesday, Gujarat became India’s first state to establish a cashless system in its foodgrain PDS. The state government has installed Aadhaar enabled payment systems (AEPS) in around 17,250 fair price shops to ensure that those eligible for subsidized food grains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) only need their Aadhaar numbers to collect their rations.
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“By 30 June, around 558,000 ration shops in the country will become Aadhaar-enabled. This initiative will be undertaken jointly by the IT ministry and the ministry for consumer affairs," Prasad said.
“This will make it very convenient for people to identify themselves as well as make payments. It will eliminate the cases of fake ration cards or fictitious names being used to avail the benefits."
The centre issued a notification on Wednesday 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 subsidized food.
According to a report submitted by the government of Rajasthan, the savings due to AEPS was 14.68% for wheat, 20.11% for sugar and 39.13% for kerosene.
“The money that is saved by adoption of AEPS should be used for the upliftment of the poor," he said.
The use of Aadhaar for availing subsidies got legislative backing in March last year after the Aadhaar Bill was passed by the lower house of Parliament.
However, the Supreme Court, in an interim order in October 2015 had allowed voluntary use of Aadhaar and ruled that no citizen could be denied a service or subsidy for want of it.