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Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan. According to the food ministry, the beneficiary database has been digitized in all 36 states and Union territories. Photo: Mint
Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan. According to the food ministry, the beneficiary database has been digitized in all 36 states and Union territories. Photo: Mint

Food ministry targets linking all ration cards with Aadhaar

Food minister Ram Vilas Paswan says 26.2 million bogus ration cards have been weeded out through measures such as digitization

New Delhi: With Tamil Nadu and Kerala on board, all 36 states and Union territories (UTs) in India have implemented the National Food Security Act (NFSA), food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Thursday.

“Only 11 states had implemented the Act when we came to power (in 2014)," Paswan said, adding that the next goal of the centre is to complete linking ration cards with Aadhaar unique identification numbers. So far, 71% of ration cards have been linked with Aadhaar numbers to ensure transparency and reduce leakages, he said.

Through various measures like digitization, 26.2 million bogus ration cards have been weeded out and currently the leakage of grains stands at a mere 0.04%, Paswan said.

Enacted by Parliament in 2013, NFSA entitles 50% of the urban and 75% of the rural population to highly subsidized foodgrains at Rs2-3 per kg. Each eligible person is allowed to draw 5 kg of grains per month.

So far, 800 million Indians have been enrolled under the scheme, close to the intended coverage of 813.4 million under the NFSA, the food ministry said in a statement. It added that the program entails a subsidy outgo of Rs1.4 trillion per year, making it the largest welfare program run by the centre.

According to the food ministry, the beneficiary database has been digitized in all 36 states and UTs. 28 states and UTs are allocating beneficiaries their share of foodgrains online, and the entire foodgrain supply chain has been computerized in 18 states and UTs.

To prevent leakage of foodgrains, the centre has initiated two models. Under the direct cash transfer model, the beneficiary gets the money into the bank account and purchases grains from market. The UTs of Chandigarh, Puducherry and urban areas of Dadra and Nagar Haveli have opted for this.

Under the second model, currently used by all states, foodgrains are distributed through an electronic point of sale (e-PoS) device. The device authenticates beneficiaries during distribution of grains and also electronically records the amount of grains distributed to the family.

According to the food ministry, currently 1,61,854 fair price shops are using the e-PoS device.

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