Tripura has become the first among the northeast states, and the third in the country, to operationalise intra-state ration card portability for consumers using the Public Distribution System (PDS). This allows residents to use their ration cards at any fair price shop in the state.
In a media interaction at the state guest house late on Friday night, the state food minister said his department would also introduce inter-state portability for ration card consumers by January 2020.
“As mandated by the Centre, we started intra-state portability this month and will implement inter-state portability in January next year,” Tripura’s Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Manoj Kanti Deb said.
Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are the two other states that have already rolled out the intra-state ration card portability scheme.
Tripura has 9.15 lakh PDS consumers, including 3.37 APL, 1.08 AAY and 4.7 PHH consumers. There are 1,810 fair price shops spread across eight districts of the state.
Nearly all ration shops in the state have migrated to an online fingerprint-based access system. There are only 27 shops that still operate in offline mode. Most of these are located in the Longtraivalley sub-division of Dhalai district, which is very close to the Indo-Bangla International Border, and have low internet connectivity. The rest are spread across West Tripura, Gomatgi, South Tripura, North Tripura, Sipahijala, Khowai, and Unakoti districts.
Food Secretary Dr. Debashish Basu said an average of 500 families is being served by each of the 27 ration shops, which translates to around 13,500 families currently outside the coverage of the online PDS distribution system.
Tripura currently provides six commodities through its fair price shops including rice, wheat, sugar, lentil pulses, salt, and tea.
The government had earlier announced it would start supplying mustard oil and soyabean among some other products. However, the initiative has faced hiccups as soyabean, mostly supplied from Madhya Pradesh, has far exceeded the initial funds. The supply of mustard oil is facing hurdles as well as 100 per cent ‘kacchi ghani’ oil is hard to fit in the state’s budget.
The state food minister also informed that drastic steps were being taken against hoarders and middlemen responsible for the rise in prices. On the high onion prices, Deb said officials, who have already caught several hoarders, are maintaining a strict vigil. The prices are expected to reduce by the end of December, his officials said. Onions were priced at Rs. 120 per kg on Saturday at Tripura’s markets.