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Wednesday, August 04, 2021

One nation, one ration card: Delhi govt warns officials against delay in rollout

The Supreme Court has fixed July 31 as the deadline for the implementation of the scheme in Delhi, West Bengal, Assam and Chhattisgarh.

Written by Sourav Roy Barman | New Delhi |
Updated: July 17, 2021 11:39:44 am
The scheme facilitates migrants with ration cards registered in other states to collect foodgrains from any fair price shop. (Express Photo/Representative)

With over 100 fair price shops yet to carry out test transactions using e-POS devices, the Delhi government has warned food department officials of disciplinary action if there’s a delay in the rollout of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ (ONORC) scheme.

The Supreme Court has fixed July 31 as the deadline for the implementation of the scheme in Delhi, West Bengal, Assam and Chhattisgarh. The possibility of a delay in Delhi’s case came to light during a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary Vijay Dev on Friday.

Using ONORC, migrants with ration cards registered in other states can collect foodgrains from any fair price shop in the national capital. However, use of e-POS (electronic point of sales) devices, which is a way of biometric authentication of a beneficiary, is a must when it comes to implementing ONORC.

In an internal circular to all assistant commissioners in the food department, additional commissioner Kuldeep Singh flagged that 117 fair price shops have not carried out even one test transaction using the e-POS devices. The department has trained all ration shop dealers in this regard.

On July 10, every fair price shop — Delhi has around 2.000 — was directed by the department to conduct at least 50 trial transactions using e-POS devices in the run up to the implementation of the new scheme. Before that, training sessions were also carried out for the ration dealers.

“Despite passage of a week’s time, as reported by the IT Branch, 117 FPSs have not tested e-POS devices even for a single transaction. IT Branch has also given online training to all FPS dealers regarding e-POS operations in the month of January and all e-POS devices were tested also. The refresher training was also imparted to all FPS dealers…Despite this compliance testing of e-POS devices from the remaining 117 FPS has not been done. This is a grave matter and this may affect the smooth roll out of the ONORC scheme,” Singh wrote on Friday.

He also directed all assistant commissioners to iron out problems. “Non-compliance will be taken seriously and action, deemed fit, will be taken against the concerned officers,” the circular added.

Delhi has so far rolled out ONORC in only of the 70 circles that come under the Food and Supplies Department that control the Public Distribution System (PDS) under which subsidized food grains — primarily wheat and rice — are given to ration card holders, classified under normal and Antyodaya categories based on levels of income.

The Centre had last month questioned the approach of the Delhi government in implementing the ONORC policy in the city, saying “at least 10 lakh migrants are being deprived of the benefits of the ration card portability scheme”.

Questions were also raised over the non-implementation of the scheme after Delhi’s initiative to disburse dry ration to those not holding ration cards, or those with cards registered in other states, ran into hurdles due to a demand-supply mismatch.

The disbursal of ration through e-POS devices took place across Delhi during a brief period in early 2018. On April 25, 2018, e-POS operations were suspended by the Delhi government citing irregularities, such as misuse of OTPs.

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