Aadhaar linking: Officials to check houses

Chennai: As most of the residents failed to give details of their Aadhaar cards at ration shops, the Food Department has decided to visit households to know the reasons for it.

In Tamilnadu, free rice is given at ration shops. Accordingly, the government needs 3.25 tonnes of rice and spends Rs 3,450 crore annually. With the National Food Security Act (NFSA) coming into force in Tamilnadu from 1 November, an additional of 5 kg rice is given for a five-member family instead of 20 kg. For this, the government has to spend an additional Rs 1,193 crore for rice grant.

To ensure that there is no mismanagement in the distribution of rice, the government is issuing ‘smart card’ and ‘point of sale’ machines are used instead of paper bills in ration shops.

By using this machine, the buyer will get an SMS immediately with details of the purchase and the bill. The card-holders have to submit their Aadhaar card numbers for this facility. However, it is said most of them have not given the numbers and the Food Department officials have decided  to visit the households.

According to an official, there are 2.09 crore ration cards with 7.90 crore members. Of them, 5.20 crore people have given the Aadhaar card details, which covers 83 lakh ration cards. This has led to delay in printing the smart cards, the official said.

Residents instead of visiting the rations shops, can download the mobile app (TNePDS) and register the Aadhaar card details.

The smart ration cards won’t be issued this year and it will be given only in February next year.

But there are chances for the scheme to be introduced in four districts this year itself as a pilot project. The districts are Ariyalur, Perambalur, Tiruchi and Pudukottai.

The ration cards in use in the State now were issued in 2005. Although the cards expired in 2009, the government decided to continue using it them pasting additional papers. But it’s already seven years since the card got expired and officials have felt the need to replace the older cards with newer, smarter ones.

In addition to the cards becoming old, officials said, there is a hike in the usage of multiple ration cards registered in the name of a single person. This has led to illegal usage of subsidised ration items resulting in an increase in expenditure for the State.

They also believe that the issues relating to the traditional ration cards can be curbed by linking the beneficiaries’ iris, fingerprint identity and photograph to the smart ration cards which will lift the beneficiaries’ details directly from their Aadhaar cards.

The manufacture, management of smart ration cards and installation of advanced equipment in ration shops were taken up by a private firm after winning the tender. It is learnt that the private firm started the work in early 2015. As of now, many ration shops have received the ‘point of sale’ device which can store the details of beneficiaries’ ration card number, Aadhaar number, cooking gas number and the items bought.

Earlier, the government decided to complete the process by September and start issuing the card right from October this year. But due to lack of cooperation from the public by not furnishing Aadhaar details, the scheme got postponed to early next year, said the official.