'Smart ration card' plan hits a hurdle

There is no positive response from the Labour ministry to the proposal

'Smart ration card' plan hits a hurdle

The Food and Civil Supplies department’s proposal to replace the existing ration cards with biometric-embedded ‘smart ration cards’ has hit a hurdle.

The department was keen to tie up with the Union Ministry of Labour to issue a common smart card that could be utilised for procuring ration through fair price shops and also avail health insurance under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojane (RSBY) scheme in place for below poverty line (BPL) families.

However, according to sources in the department, there has been no positive response from the Labour ministry to the proposal. For now, the present system of issuing laminated ration card with a unique number and names of members in the family will continue to be issued to the applicants. 

The cards are issued by the Food and Civil Supplies department after collecting biometrics and verifying the address and other details provided by the applicants. The biometric and details of the applicants are stored in the central server of the department.

The proposal was that the smart card (with the size and look of an ATM card) would have embedded in it the biometric details of an applicant and his or her family.“The smart card would help in eliminating bogus cards as it is difficult to duplicate.

 Further, fair price shop dealers could examine the authenticity of the card by
 inserting it into a machine. As the RSBY smart cards are issued to BPL families using the database maintained by the Food and Civil Supplies department, we had proposed a common smart card. However, our proposal was recently turned down, citing technical reasons,” Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said.

BPL families can enrol for the RSBY scheme by paying Rs 30 to get a biometric-enabled smart card containing their fingerprints and photographs. The card enables them to receive hospitalisation coverage up to Rs 30,000 per family per year in the empanelled hospitals. There are 1.1 crore ration card households in the State, including 82.4 lakh BPL families.

Rao said the department was now working out whether it could provide smart ration cards on its own.

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