SRIKAKULAM:The e-pass system introduced by the government on an experimental basis to arrest irregularities in the distribution of essential commodities through fair price shops seems to be suffering with birth pangs. The technical snags that the systems are throwing up are giving headaches to FP shop dealers and beneficiaries alike, threatening to defeat their very purpose - to help ration card holders.
Though there are 1,989 ration depots in the district, the electronic point of sale (e-pass) system was introduced in 242 depots in the first phase. The dealers were also given training on the e-pass machines. The commodities are supplied on the lines of biometric system using the thumb impressions of the card holders. But the machines are not helping the genuine ration card holders because of technical faults and network problems in the district. The network is reportedly getting disconnected every 10-15 minutes, forcing beneficiaries to wait for hours in queues in the hot sun to get their rations. Besides, beneficiaries also take more time to feed their Aadhaar number and card number once the signal is restored. Though the e-pass machines were launched on April 1, not even one-third of the commodities were distributed till now. A beneficiary, Saraswati, of Manguvarithota, told Express that standing in queue would not guarantee commodities. “All of a sudden, the machines go kaput and we would be forced to go back home.” The ration should be supplied through the old system, she added.
The people expressed their anguish over how, in the new system if the machines stop working there is no alternative to dealer closing his shop, while earlier, in the old system, ration was assured if the beneficiary comes with the ration card alone. Though the Civil Supplies commissioner gave orders to supply ration under the old system at depots where e-pass machines fail, the practice is not being implemented.