Devices to check graft in fair price shops

The multi-utility hand-held equipment will be made mandatory to usher in accountability

Devices to check graft in fair price shops

Multi-utility hand-held devices will soon be made mandatory at all fair price shops across the State by the Food and Civil Supplies department to usher in accountability and check irregularities in the public distribution system.

The device will keep track of transactions at fair price shops and will have scanners to capture the biometrics of beneficiaries, print bills and send stock details to the central server of the Food and Civil Supplies department.

There are around 21,000 ration shops in the State catering to around 1.1 crore households having ration cards.

Minister for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said the devices would not only help in ensuring effective monitoring and record-keeping of commodities for public distribution, but also weed out bogus cards.

Point-of-sale devices

These portable point-of-sale devices will have features like digital camera, GPRS with 3G, two smart card readers, touch screen, thermal paper printers, chargeable battery, WiFi and Bluetooth compatibility, and will work on an Android platform.

Rao said the specification for the devices will be finalised after discussion with all stakeholders. Once the devices are in place, ration will be provided only after biometric authentication of beneficiaries. Rao pointed out that with the installation of the devices, there will be constant flow of data to the central server of the department on a real-time basis. 

The quantum of ration sold to beneficiaries and the amount charged can be tracked on a shop-to-shop and individual basis.

The department had recently invited Expression of Interest from agencies for supplying the hand-held devices. Rao said as many as 25 players have shown interest in participating in the scheme. 

Tenders would be floated soon and successful bidders empanelled, following which the price of the device fixed. Fair price shop owners will have to purchase the device from dealers by making a down payment and pay the balance in monthly installments. 

Vendors will have to provide the required maintenance for the device at the shops for a period of three years.

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