The Karnataka government is planning to install rice-dispensing machines for ration card holders under the Public Distribution System (PDS). These machines, which the government is calling as ‘Rice ATM’, will be set up in various places across the state.
According to the Karnataka Minister for Food and Civil Supplies K Gopalaiah, Rice ATMs will be installed to ensure 24X7 rice availability to those who have ration cards and will potentially do away with the need to wait in long queues in front of ration shops.
The idea of setting up Rice ATM’s came from Vietnam and Indonesia where authorities have set up rice-dispensing machines to provide free rice to their citizens during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Speaking to Indianexpress.com, K Gopalaiah said, “The department will set up two rice ATMs in the state to check the feasibility of the initiative, later if the project is a success the same will be extended across the state.”
The minister says that Rice ATMs will be beneficial for Below Poverty Line (BPL) people, who have to work during the day and don’t find time to go to the PDS centre during working hours. Through this system, they can also avoid long queues in front of government-run ration shops.
“As per the initial project report, the rice-dispensing machines will come in different sizes from 100 kg to 500 kg capacity. The person who needs rice should insert a coin in the machine and a certain quantity of rice will be dispensed,” the minister explained.
To make Rice ATM’s convenient for public usage, the government is also considering a smart card or a biometric system similar to bank ATMs.
The Karnataka government has been providing 5 kg of rice per month under Anna Bhagya scheme to every member of a BPL household since the year 2013 and Above Poverty Level (APL) family members get rice for Rs 15 per kg. Under Anna Bhagya scheme, not only is rice provided, but ration cardholders also get edible oils, sugar, iodized salt, kerosene and other items at a lower price.
Earlier, the Karnataka government had set up drinking water ATMs across the state. According to the government, there are over 1,800 water dispensing ATMs in the state. In Bengaluru, the water ATMs provide safe drinking mineral water at affordable prices of Rs 5 for 20 litres.
In Bengaluru, water ATMs are common in almost every area. Every corporation ward also has a water ATM, which is managed by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the city municipal corporation body.
Local authorities have appointed about two to three caretakers to ensure smooth operations in these ATM’s and the expenses are managed by the total amount received by the sales at the water ATMs.
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