Starting January 15, the 2,254 fair price shops (FPS) in the capital will be equipped with iris authentication for beneficiaries. This is an addition to the newly started Aadhaar card-based electronic point of sale (e-PoS) devices. “While iris recognition will be implemented on January 15, authentication using one-time password (OTP) will be done at the FPS between January 15-20. This is a part of the trial,” Delhi’s Food Supplies Minister Imran Hussain said.
Iris and OTP methods will be used only if the first three attempts of fingerprint authentication through the e-PoS device fail. In the first eight days of e-PoS devices being installed at ration shops, many beneficiaries returned home empty-handed as either the machines didn’t work or they failed to recognise their fingerprints.
“We were under the impression that the iris and OTP methods will be introduced at our shops from January 1, along with e-PoS devices… it’s needed urgently because the machines have been malfunctioning a lot. We still haven’t received an order about the installation of iris authentication on January 15,” said Saurabh Gupta, secretary of the Sarkari Ration Dealer Sangh.
On Friday, billing at Rajender Gupta’s FPS in Hauz Khas was being done 500 metres away, on the road. The e-PoS device, equipped with two SIM cards, had connectivity issues. “I waited for three-four customers to gather, walked with them till the road to use the machine, and then returned to the shop to hand over the rice and wheat. It’s too hectic,” said Gupta.
It was a similar sight at an FPS in Krishna Nagar, Safdarjung Enclave, wherein Moolchand Gupta (52) had to “borrow” WiFi from a neighbouring shop. The machines have been supplied by Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) and its engineers have been visiting the shops for a few days now. “I went to ration shops in Sheikh Sarai, Chirag Delhi, Greater Kailash, Kalkaji and Safdarjung Enclave to fix these machines. There have been many complaints. A lot of these shops are in areas with low network connectivity,” said a BEL engineer on Friday evening.
In Madanpur Khadar’s JJ colony, the FPS was shut over the weekend, as the machine had to be fixed. For Dhafli Bagriya (45), this meant a loss of wages. “I have been standing in the queue for three days now. I can’t afford wheat and rice from other shops,” she said. Hussain, meanwhile, said, “There are some network problems. I met the Commissioner and told him that WiFi should be provided at shops where there is a network problem.”