PDS shops in Tamil Nadu see 98 per cent transactions through biometric system

In addition, the entire billing system will be computerised, with weighing scales linked to POS machines.

Published: 30th April 2023 08:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th April 2023 11:18 AM   |  A+A-

biometric system

Image used for representational purposes

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The civil supplies and consumer protection department has successfully implemented mandatory biometric verification for the distribution of commodities in order to ensure that the supplies reach only the intended beneficiaries and prevent leaks in the supply chain system.

The public distribution system has been effectively strengthened during 2022-23, with 98% of transactions at fair-price shops taking place through beneficiary fingerprint verification. Additionally, flexible guidelines for issuing new ration cards - particularly to single women who live separately without divorcing their partners - have also provided food coverage to many. Last year, a total of 14.5 lakh new family ration cards were issued.

Food and Civil Supplies Minister, R Sakkarapani said around 3.3 lakh elderly and persons with disabilities who face challenges in visiting fair price shops have submitted authorisation letters for receiving their allocations via nominated representatives.

According to the TN e-governance agency, 15.78 lakh ration card holders died last year. The exercise helped the department identify genuine beneficiaries from the economically weaker sections, making them eligible for enhanced allocation of food items under the National Food Security Act. To ensure zero wastage of food grains at ration shops, the civil supplies department also decided to serve four commodities- rice, tur dal, wheat and sugar in packets.

“Once the proposed modern rice mills are established, we will begin packaging rice in 5 to 10 kg bags, which will then be distributed through ration shops. Gradually, we also plan to distribute other commodities such as pulses, wheat and sugar in packets. We will write to the Union government seeking exemption from GST for packed food items below 25 kgs,” explained Sakkarapani.

In addition, the entire billing system will be computerised, with weighing scales linked to POS machines. “Once the end-to-end computerisation work is complete, complaints regarding underweight products will be eliminated. However, the process may take some time, as the tendering process has just begun,” the minister said.

T Sadagopan, president of Tamil Nadu Progressive Consumer Centre, said the allocation of rice quantity should be reviewed, taking into account the consumption pattern of the consumers. “A chunk of the population above 50 years of age suffer from diabetes and require less quantity of rice. Such consumers can be given millets at a subsidised rate.”

ALSO READ | Zero wastage, improving supply chain of foodgrains is our target: Tamil Nadu Minister

The CS & CP department should also address consumer complaints in other departments. “In 1988, G.O No. 389 was issued, which made it mandatory for all departments in Chennai to conduct grievance redress meetings with consumers every 90 days. However, these meetings have not been held since 2019, and the government should take necessary steps to address the concerns of the associations,” Sadagopan said.

Sakkarapani said, “Efforts are being taken to procure ragi from Karnataka. Distribution of 2 kg of ragi to cardholders in place of rice will start in May in the Nilgiris.”


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