After a delay of over a month, iris machines were delivered across Fair Price Shops (FPS) in the capital towards the end of February. The iris machines — an alternative to electronic Point of Sale (e-PoS) machines in cases where biometrics do not match — were made operational across the city from March 1.
Saurabh Gupta, secretary, Sarkari Ration Dealer Sangh, said, “We can use iris machines after three biometric trials on e-PoS machines fail. If iris scan doesn’t work after two trials, we go for OTP (one time password) generation. Network is a big problem with the iris machines, just as it is with e-PoS machines. It takes very long. But at least we are not sending anyone home empty-handed.”
Incidentally, at the Delhi government’s Cabinet meeting held at CM Arvind Kejriwal’s residence on February 20, it was decided that FPS will no longer sell ration using Aadhaar-linked e-PoS machines. They were to resume distribution by verifying details on ration cards, like before. E-PoS machines were implemented in January this year.
Due to the problems on the ground with ration being denied to many, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia had, on February 20, announced that “ePOS was introduced to stop pilferage of ration. From what we know so far, the Cabinet decision was a little different from how it was implemented. We are still looking into what these differences were and how they affected people. We have directed the chief secretary to prepare a Cabinet note in a week’s time for doorstep delivery of ration. The note should be prepared in such a way that it can be implemented within two-and-a-half months. Till then, rations will be distributed the old way”.
Merely four days after this announcement, the iris machines were delivered at FPS, causing some confusion among owners.
“We were hoping to do manual distribution March onwards after Sisodia’s statement, but then the machines arrived. We are going ahead with e-PoS and iris for now because we haven’t got a directive from Food and Supplies Ministry on manual distribution,” said Gupta.
Regarding the Aadhar-linked e-PoS and iris machines, a government official told The Indian Express, “The government did not do away with the biometrics system altogether. It had said that the mechanism would be put on hold. The execution was at its pilot stage and the objective was to rectify the errors. The machines have come as part of that pilot project of the food department. But we will ensure the errors are done away with.”