Walk for 8 km and then climb a hillock: These Jharkhand villagers' only way to access internet for ration

The problem started when the online distribution of ration was made mandatory even in the areas where there is no internet connection. 

Published: 19th June 2021 09:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th June 2021 09:20 PM   |  A+A-

Villagers on a hillock trying to access internet in Simdega block of Jharkhand. (Photo | Special arrangement)

Express News Service

RANCHI: Even in this age of 4G network, people living in some of the villages under Jaldega Block of Simdega have to climb a hillock or travel a distance up to 5- 8 kilometers on foot to get their quota of ration under the Public Distribution System (PDS) after putting their thumb impression on e-PoS Machine due to lack of internet connectivity in the region. 

According to villagers, they have to go to a particular point on the hillock along with the ration dealer, wait there for several hours for internet connectivity, and put their thumb impression to collect ration after returning back to the PDS shop in the village.

The problem, according to villagers, started when the online distribution of ration was made mandatory by the district administration even in the areas where there is no internet connection. 

Earlier, they were getting ration easily through off-line mode, but the arrangement was changed recently in the month of December-January following directions from the State Government.

For getting the ration, a beneficiary has to put a thumb impression on the e-PoS machine, but due to lack of connectivity, they have to travel for several kilometers in search of internet connectivity.

“As there is no internet connectivity in the village, we have to climb nearby hillocks by walking on foot for about 8 kilometers in order to get our quota of ration every month. All the cardholders assemble near the PDS shop and then walk to the hillock along with the dealer in search of internet connectivity,” said a local Amit Kandulna of Tetamda village in Jaldega.

There also had instances that they returned back without putting their thumb impression as no internet connectivity was found even after walking for several hours, he added.

PDS shop dealers informed that since the e-PoS machine they distribute ration is compatible with 2G network of Airtel only, has poor internet connectivity in the region besides having server problem all the time.

“Since there is a network issue all the time, we have to take the cardholders to Jaldega, which is around 4-5 kilometers away from here only to get their thumb impression. There are a lot of other problems, both for PDS dealers and beneficiaries, as the network keeps on coming and going very frequently,” said a PDS shop dealer, requesting anonymity. Sometimes they have to wait for the entire day for network without any results, he added.

The dealer further added that every PDS dealer, barring those located near block headquarters, either have to go to Jaldega or find out a place at a faraway place by climbing on the hillocks in search of internet connectivity as there is no network outside there. They have already submitted applications to the district administration but nothing has been done so far, he said.

Officials also admitted that there is a problem and they are trying to solve it as soon as possible.

“There are several shadow areas in most of the places in Jaldega block where PDS dealers have to face a lot of problems in the distribution of ration and updating the e-PoS machines due to poor or no internet connectivity. We have already written to the district administration, along with a list of PDS dealers facing the problem, recommending free these areas from online ration distribution,” said Circle Officer cum Block Supply Officer Khagen Mahto.

Meanwhile, the district administration claimed to have taken needful action to solve the problem.

“This problem has also been reported from several other blocks of Simdega outside Jaldega, for which, we are trying our best to arrange offline ration distribution in such areas. We have already written to the state government seeking permission for the same as it could be done from the State Government
level. As soon as approval is granted, we will start offline distribution of ration in all shadow areas,” said Deputy Commissioner Sushant Gaurav.


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