Ensuring fairness at shops with e-machines

To ensure transparency in the Public Distribution System (PDS), the Food and Civil Supplies department is installing electronic weighing-cum-point of sale machines at all fair price shops. The uniqueness of the machine is that it has a voice information system and announces in Kannada the weight of the grocery and the amount to be paid by the customer. Besides, details of the transaction will be displayed on the screen, leaving no scope for the shopkeeper to hoodwink the customer, department secretary B A Harish Gowda said.

Data related to ration card holders attached to a fair price shop (FPS), including the fingerprint biometric, is stored in the machine. A consumer’s account in the machine can be opened only on the basis of biometric information. When the commodity is placed on the platform, the weight is shown on the touch screen. And on touching the commodity icon, the machine announces the commodity name and weight.

For kerosene measurement, the machine deducts the container weight and converts the kerosene weight into volume and shows the kerosene poured in terms of litres on the screen. At the time of generating the bill, the machine again announces weight/volume and amount to be paid. Details related to the bill are automatically transferred to the central server through a GSM modem, he added.

Normally, fair price shops use traditional weighing scales. Ration card holders have been complaining that the scales are tampered with. Besides, in the absence of a system to monitor sale of food grains, many shop owners used to divert them to black market, official sources said.

The department has so far installed the machine at nine shops located in Seshadripuram, Okalipuram, Cubbonpet, J C Road and other areas of Bangalore City on a pilot basis. “The machines are running successfully in these places. It has not only ensured that the customers get their ration at fair price, but completely stopped diversion of food grains to the black market. The machines will be installed in all ration shops in Bangalore soon,” Gowda said.

In Tumkur district, as many as 409 machines have been installed. All the 1,130 shops in the district will be covered under the system. The department has now invited tenders to procure machines in Belgaum, Gulbarga, Chikmagalur, Mysore and Dharwad districts.
This is not all. Customers can access details of their transactions on the department’s website –http://ahara.kar.nic.in. The entire food grain supply and distribution network, from the Food Corporation of India godown to fair price shops, has been computerised.

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