Getting their ration with ease and in clean ambience

Getting their ration with ease and in clean ambience

Getting their ration with ease and in clean ambience

BPL ration card holders in Jeevanahalli, Cox Town here no more plead with the shopkeepers for the timely allotment of their monthly quota of groceries. They do not even wait for ages outside the shop to purchase the subsidised rice or kerosene.

No, this is not because the attitude of the shopkeepers has changed for better but because the shop itself has moved into a supermarket nearby.

The food and civil supplies department, thinking out of the box, has relocated a ration shop from Annapoorna stores in the locality to a  Food World outlet. About 263 card holders were attached to the new outlet which is open from 8 am to 8 pm throughout the week. A government employee has been tasked with running the ration counter.

In the last three months, the beneficiaries, mostly slum dwellers, have not hesitated to walk into the supermarket to get their quota of groceries.

Biometric fingerprint

The department has installed a Point of Sale Machine (PoS) which has an electronic weighing scale and a biometric fingerprint scanner which displays the fingerprints and photographs of the beneficiaries, besides showing their quota along with the rates.
Kamalamma, a ration card holder from Doddagunte slum, said that unlike in the past, she now collects rice and sugar without any hassles.

Some beneficiaries, however, complain that the store is a bit far from their homes.

Positive response

Encouraged by the overall positive response from the beneficiaries, the department recently attached 666 more cards to the PDS outlet in the supermarket. The department does not pay any rent for the ration counter. It just pays a commission of Rs 36 to the supermarket for selling a quintal of groceries. Similar commission is paid to ration shop owners.

Soumya G, assistant director in the department, said the card holders had not expressed any problem in collecting their groceries in the supermarket as it was located very close to the Annapoorna stores.

The advantages of having a PDS counter at a supermarket are many. The beneficiaries, who fall under the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category, get an opportunity to purchase the ration in clean ambience. Unlike in the PDS shops, they are treated far better at the supermarket.

PDS counter

“The poor need not sacrifice their daily wages to wait for ages at a PDS shop to get their groceries. They can walk into the PDS counter in the supermarket anytime before 8 pm. The new system also removes the friction between the ration shop owners and the beneficiaries,” she pointed out.

Severely short-staffed, the department is now training the salespeople in the supermarket in the use of the PoS. Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said he was yet to decide on relocating more PDS shops to such food markets.

A BPL family gets 27 kg of rice at Re 1/kg; 3 kg of wheat at Re 1/kg; 1 kg sugar at Rs 13.50 and 3 litres of kerosene at Rs 17.50/litre.