At the same time, the mechanism will also help in pinpointing errant fair price shop dealers who fail to provide the entitlements to the beneficiaries.
Harsh Gupta, principal secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department, said the National Food Security Act, 2013, had a provision for providing food security allowance to beneficiaries in case of non-supply of entitled foodgrains.
However, the provision is not being implemented as there is no system to cross-verify whether the commodities under the PDS have indeed reached the end-user or not.
The department is now working on a three-phase approach to put a cross-verification mechanism in place.
The first phase is already being experimented by the department as a pilot project of providing biometric-based barcoded coupons to beneficiaries to keep track of commodities provided through the PDS.
The coupons, to be procured by the beneficiaries by providing biometrics at the nearest BangaloreOne centre, can be furnished at a fair price shop to get the ration.
“During the pilot, we found there was a feedback that two visits had to be made to get ration – one to the BangaloreOne centre and then to the fair price shop. We are working on the next phase where coupons can be generated from any computer with an Internet connection,” Gupta said.
A software will be hosted on the department’s website wherein the beneficiary can key in their Aadhaar number and ration card number. On authentication, a One-Time Password (OTP) will be sent to the beneficiary’s registered mobile phone. On keying the OTP into the software, the barcoded coupon with details on the quantum of ration that can be received by the beneficiaries and the amount to be charged will be generated, a printout of which can be taken.
In the third phase, the beneficiary can SMS the ration card and Aadhaar number on their registered mobile to a specific number (not finalised).
On authentication, the barcoded coupon number will be sent back. The beneficiary can show the code to the fair price shop dealer, who can SMS it to the department to get the details on whether the transaction is valid and the quantum of entitlements to the beneficiaries.
These systems will help in monitoring the dealer as he/she cannot give lame excuses. If a genuine beneficiary has been denied entitlements, then compensation can be paid and at the same time the errant dealer penalised, Gupta said.