Aadhaar-based biometric authentication has helped the state government save Rs 580 crore this year by plugging leakage in the public distribution system, Food and Civil Supplies Minister B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan said on Wednesday.
The minister also announced that the biometric system in fairprice shops would be outsourced to ensure higher accountability.
It was in late 2016 that Aadhaar-enabled biometric machines were deployed at all 20,778 fairprice shops to authenticate below-poverty-line (BPL) card holders to release rations.
“Before biometrics came in, fairprice shops inflated figures and claimed that 95% card holders got ration supply. This year, thanks to biometrics, we have saved Rs 580 crore and this figure can go up in the coming months,” Khan told reporters after reviewing the performance of the department of food and civil supplies.
However, biometrics have become dysfunctional in many fairprice shops located in Mangaluru, Udupi, Karwar, Chikkamagaluru and Shivamogga districts. “Those running the fairprice shops were made responsible for the biometric devices. We pay them Rs 4,000 per quintal as commission for the biometric devices. But the shops deliberately create problems with the devices,” Khan claimed.
As a result, the government has decided to handover the responsibility of the biometric devices to state-run or private telecom companies. “We will start with a pilot project in Shivamogga, where biometric has been turned off in 59 fairprice shops. Companies like BSNL or Airtel will be roped in. This will make sure there’s more accountability.” Khan said.
At present, Karnataka has 1.31 crore BPL cards. The government has identified and deleted 4.50 lakh bogus BPL cards following Aadhaar linkage. “We have linked 99% of BPL cards with Aadhaar,” Khan said. There were 6.26 lakh new BPL card applications pending and they will be disposed of before December 10, he added.
As many as 31,000 beneficiaries have been disqualified from receiving free gas connection under the Chief Minister’s Anila Bhagya scheme. “They’ve already received gas connection under the Centre’s Ujjwala scheme,” Khan said.
Under the Anila Bhagya scheme, the government aims to provide free gas connections - a gas cylinder, a stove, a lighter and two refills - to BPL families at a cost of Rs 4,040 per family. “I’ve set a December 15 deadline for one lakh beneficiaries get the gas connection,” he added.