NEW DELHI :
No new ration card will be required for availing the portability benefit under the government's ambitious 'one nation, one ration card' initiative to be rolled out across the country from June 2020, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Friday.
Currently, the initiative is being implemented on a pilot basis. Inter-state as well as state level portability is being tried in a cluster approach. The government's aim is to implement the initiative across India from June 1, next year.
Under the initiative, eligible beneficiaries would be able to avail their entitled foodgrain under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from any Fair Price Shop in the country using the same ration card.
Paswan, who reviewed the implementation of the initiative, said, "There were reports in some newspapers that new ration cards will be needed for this scheme. It is baseless. No new ration card (is) required. Existing card will be valid pan India".
Beneficiaries will avail subsidised foodgrain using their existing ration card by biometric authentication on electronic point of sale (ePoS) machines, he said in a series of tweets.
The minister said the state level portability of ration card is fully operational in 12 States and partially in four states.
The 'state-level portability' allows the ration card holders to lift their foodgrain from any ePoS enabled fair price shops (FPS) within their district or state.
Whereas 'inter-state portability' is operational in eight states in clusters of two-adjoining states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana; Gujarat and Maharashtra; Haryana and Rajasthan and Karnataka and Kerala, the minister added.
"Four more states Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Jharkhand and Tripura will be clubbed with these 8 states from January 1, 2020 to make one cluster," Paswan said.
He said the beneficiaries from all these 12 states will be able to lift their entitled foodgrain from any FPS of these 12 states.
Paswan said the e-biometric authentication of beneficiaries and state-level portability is essential for distribution of foodgrain under the 'One Nation One Ration Card' scheme.
However, Tamil Nadu and Delhi governments are not using ePoS devices in ration shops. Assam government has not taken any initiative so far to install ePoS devices, he said.
In Tamil Nadu, the use of ePoS devices in 34,700 FPSs has not started despite achieving 100 per cent Aadhaar seeding in ration cards.
In Delhi, the use of ePoS devices remain suspended since April 2018 despite implementation of 100 per cent bio-metric based distribution through ePoS in all its FPSs.
Whereas the Assam government has not yet taken any initiation so far towards the installation of ePoS devices in 38,300 FPSs even after continuous persuasion by the department, he added.
Under the NFSA, about 75 crore beneficiaries have been covered so far against the target of 81.35 crore, as per official data.