From October, biometric authentication must at fair price shops

Ration cardholders across the State will have to carry out biometric authentication from October before receiving their entitlements from fair price shops, according to the present plan of the Civil Supplies Department.

This will be part of the One Nation One Rationcard (ONOR) scheme aimed at achieving “seamless intra-State and inter-State portability” of ration cards, said senior officials. For every transaction, the cardholders, regardless of the category — priority or non-priority — will do the authentication, making use of Aadhaar numbers. At present, Tiruchi, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Karur, Nagapattinam and Udhagamandalam districts have taken to biometric authentication in varying degrees. In four to six weeks, the entire State will be covered, said an official in the Civil Supplies Department. The government will notify separate procedures for senior citizens and the differently abled, who are not able to visit the fair price shops physically.

Once the scheme is rolled out fully, only inter-State migrants, holding priority household cards (PHH), will be entitled to get their monthly quota of foodgrains, as per the scale of supply — 5 kg foodgrains (rice or wheat) per month per person — stipulated in the National Food Security Act (NFSA). They will have to pay ₹2 per kg for wheat or ₹3 per kg for rice, even though in their home States, they would have received the foodgrains free of cost. This has been done for the purpose of “uniformity,” clarified the official. Apart from foodgrains, only Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) cardholders, representing the “poorest of the poor,” will get sugar at the price stipulated by the Central government.

Even though the Central guidelines on the ONOR scheme are silent on non-priority household cards, inter-State migrants holding the cards, will get their entitlements at the rates prevalent in their respective home States.

Another decision of the State government is that even the inter-State migrant PHH cardholders will not be entitled to get commodities — edible oil and tur dal that are being given under the special public distribution system. Allaying concerns of certain sections that interests of people of the State would be hit by the scheme, the officials pointed out that it would be found useful more by intra-State migrants than inter-State migrants, as the scheme provides them the option to use the fair price shop of their choice anywhere in the State, subject to the condition that the shop should not be in the same revenue village or municipal ward. Due to the presence of the national-level data depository, the problem of duplication of cards would be eliminated through de-duplication, the official added.

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