With chaos in the secretariat throughout the day, Delhi government’s Cabinet meeting was held at the Chief Minister’s residence. The Chief Secretary was not present and, instead, the acting chief secretary and principal secretary (Home) attended the meeting. According to the Delhi government, Monday night’s meeting was also called to discuss the various problems people were facing in getting rations. Fair Price Shops in Delhi which sell ration will no longer use the e-POS Aadhaar-linked machine for distribution of ration, the Cabinet decided. The shops will, instead, give ration by verifying details on Ration cards, which is the way it was being done till November last year.
Linking Aadhaar card with Ration card has created several problems on the ground, ranging from e-POS machines not recognising fingerprints to there being no signal/low connectivity at shops. In a public meeting in the capital earlier this month, people had narrated how they were forced to go to ration shops several times to get their quota. Some said that even after their fingerprints were not authenticated, the records stated that their share of ration had been disbursed.
The government had admitted that several complaints had reached them and had decided to install iris scanning machines to get Aadhaar authentication, if the fingerprints were not matching. On Tuesday, however, the entire scheme was scrapped. “e-POS 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,” said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia.
According to government officials, internal reports state that close to 50 per cent people are not getting ration. “It appears that although the Cabinet decision clearly priortised the people, this wasn’t followed by officials on the ground. The reasons will have to be probed. But the result was that at least 50 per cent of the legitimate people who should have got ration, were not getting it. Whether this is due to human error or due to some inbuilt mechanism within the system will have to be ascertained,” he said.
Sisodia also announced that the government will start a bike ambulance service in east Delhi as a pilot project. “Sixteen ambulance bikes will be posted in east Delhi. They will be GPS-enabled, will have communication devices and a medical kit. The rider will be a para-medical staff.”