Post-Diwali,ration cards will be replaced with barcoded smart cards with photographs as part of the public distribution system. With 80 per cent digitisation work complete and the validation process nearly over,Food and Civil Supplies Minister Anil Deshmukh said beneficiaries will soon get new cards.
Pune,Thane and other cities as well as some rural districts in the state will be part of the first phase under which beneficiaries will get barcoded ration cards. With nearly 2.5 crore beneficiaries and 1.10 lakh ration cards,the process will take time. But with the digitisation process complete,we should be able to roll out the new cards soon, said Deshmukh.
The department had initiated the digitisation process in view of rampant malpractices. Malpractices are prevalent both in cities and rural areas. Once the digitisation process is complete,barcoded ration cards will help weed out the bogus ones, the minister added.
Food Distribution officer D Jawanjal said they will follow the directives of the state government and it would help weed out bogus ration cards. The digitisation process is nearly complete. We are awaiting the state governments orders, he said.
The minister said after the digitisation process,the tender process will be initiated for companies and they will roll out the barcoded ration cards. Each barcoded card will have fingerprints and photographs of family members and help in controlling pilferage,said a food supplies official.
Major work will involve above poverty line cards,below poverty line cards and modification in old ration cards like transfer from fair price shops and talukas,change in category of ration card like APL to BPL or BPL to APL,deletion of ration card,addition and deletion of members from ration cards and division of ration cards.
Last year,the state government had told the Bombay High Court it would issue barcoded ration cards to curb fraud. The then deputy secretary of the food and civil supplies department stated in an affidavit that three special drives were conducted and 54.07 lakh bogus ration cards were destroyed in the state in the past seven years.
The affidavit was filed in response to a PIL by Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan that alleged irregularities in issuing and transferring ration cards. The petitioner had claimed that fair price shop owners were hoarding commodities,resulting in a Rs 25,000-crore fraud. The affidavit said of the 54.07 crore ration cards that were destroyed,42.76 lakh belonged to above poverty line families,6.36 lakh to below poverty line families and the remaining 2.15 lakh belonged to beneficiaries of the Antyodaya Anna Yojana. The affidavit also stated that the data had been digitised and new ration cards will be issued,and information will be put up online.