Even as the implementation of the Centre’s direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme is being staggered with complete rollout achieved only for distributing the subsidy on LPG for domestic use, some states are taking the lead in devising their own electronically-enabled ways to reach the intended beneficiaries with sops and reduce pilferage.
Through an electronic point of sale or e-POS model, Andhra Pradesh has imparted a great amount of incremental efficiency to the state’s public distribution system (PDS), as it is being implemented in all 13 districts of the state.
While essentials like foodgrain (rice and wheat), sugar and kerosene are being distributed across the state via e-POS-equipped PDS, the Krishna district has gone a step further and become the first in the country to digitise the database of ration cards and complete the seeding of Aadhaar numbers into it. Sources said the state government was planning to replicate the e-POS model for distribution of agricultural inputs and seeds through the Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) in the Krishna district.
The state’s achievement assumes significance given that the Centre has been seeking the state’s cooperation in implementing the DBT scheme for kerosene and fertilisers. Also, pan-India rollout of the National Food Security Act has been deferred thrice as several states are yet to identify the beneficiaries and digitise the database.
Says Ahmed Babu, collector of Krishna district, “Aadhaar-enabled PDS supported with e-PoS devices would soon lead to automation of all 2,155 fair price shops in the district. The entire supply chain from the Food Corporation of India to mandal levels has been completely linked. When Aadhaar-enabled PDS with e-POS devices was implemented in 511 fair price shops in the district as a pilot project, we could save an estimated R1.91 crore a month. When the system is extended to all fair price shops in the district, the saving could be around R10 crore a month.”
Under the system, the beneficiaries are identified by Aadhaar and verified through iris and fingerprinting at the time of release of the goods.
The objective of the AePDS through e-PoS, of course, is to ensure that only genuine cardholder or his/her family members whose name is mentioned in the ration card can buy the subsidised commodities. It would help record all FPSs transactions electronically which enables real time accounts of opening stock, daily sales and closing stock. In turn, this would facilitate monthly allotment of stocks to the FPSs based on the stock position and also facilitate monitoring and detection of fraudulent transactions.
Ahmed Babu added: “We are now planning to introduce e-PoS system in distribution of subsidised seeds, fertilisers and pesticides through Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) in the Krishna district,’’ he said. “The e-POS system will be initially introduced in 425 PACSs. The system will help the authorities to assess the availability of stocks of seed, fertilisers and pesticides. The success lies in computerisation of farmers’ details,” he added.
According to chief secretary IYR Krishna Rao, “whenever, the beneficiary collects his ration from the dealer, the information under this system immediately passed to the concerned Tehasildar through electronic process. With this, all loopholes in the distribution of material under PDS can easily be identified and plugged.”