December 21, 2016
Chennai: Amidst huge expectations from the people on the introduction of ‘smart cards’ in the Public Distribution System (PDS), there is disappointment again as the government has decided to put off the process of despatching the cards for some more time. Until then, the government has decided to attach additional pages to the family cards that expire by December-end 2016.
According to sources, the Department of Food and Civil Supplies has made it mandatory for all family cardholders in the State to link the cards with Aadhaar numbers. This initiative was taken up to eradicate bogus cardholders and ensure that only genuine beneficiaries avail of the benefits under PDS. Following this, the department had also planned to provide smart cards in place of family cards to digitise the PDS.
Earlier, the smart cards were expected to be distributed by the end of this month. However, the plan is likely to be put on hold for a couple of months due to the delay in designing and printing of the smart cards. According to officials from the Department of Food and Civil Supplies, the State government is planning to bring the entire population of the State under the Food Security Act and supply food to all residents. For this, the department has so far linked the Aadhaar numbers of around 5.43 crore population to their family cards.
According to recent data, 47 per cent of ration cards have been linked to Aadhaar. The officials also added that this was the final phase of digitisation of PDS that is getting delayed. Earlier, in the first phase of digitisation, family cards were linked to the mobile number of a member of the family, mostly the family head, in order to send them notifications about ration purchases through SMS.
“Immediately after the purchase of goods from fair price shops, the salesman of the shop will update the purchase in a point of sale (PoS) device installed in the shop. This PoS device will generate an SMS about the purchase and send it to the registered mobile number. Thus, through this method, faking of cards can be avoided as the customers will be up to date about their purchase,” said an official.
The PoS device is also used to update the database and availability of goods in the shops. Officials from every district supply office will have access to these PoS devices with which they could get the current status of goods in these shops.