To ensure that highly subsidised foodgrain reaches the intended poor families, more than 47 million bogus ration cards have been cancelled between 2013 and 2021 following seeding of Aadhaar cards of beneficiaries covered under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said on Friday.
Of these, Uttar Pradesh has pruned 17.3 million cards, followed by Maharashtra (4.2 million), Karnataka (3 million), Madhya Pradesh (2.35 million) and Rajasthan (2.26 million).
“Rightful targeting of beneficiaries under NFSA is a continuous processes to weed out those who are not entitled to get highly subsidised foodgrain,” Pandey said.
Sources said more than 200 million ration cards have been seeded with Aadhaar numbers, which has reduced leakage and diversion of foodgrain under the public distribution system.
At present, 75% of rural and 50% of the urban population is covered under NFSA. Based on this ratio, 813.5 million people are eligible to get subsidised foodgrain.
Meanwhile, to ensure that migrants living in urban centres get ration cards, the food ministry has launched a common registration facility on a pilot basis in 11 states and Union territories: Assam, Goa, Lakshadweep, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Tripura and Uttarakhand.
The web-based facility will enable states/ UTs to collect data of those who wish to register under NFSA, including migrants living in other states.
“This facility will help states/ UTs in expeditiously identifying and verifying the eligible beneficiaries for coverage under NFSA as per their established inclusion and exclusion criteria, subject to the ceiling limit of NFSA of the state/ UT,” the food ministry said in a statement.
Pandey said 16 million beneficiaries could possibly be added under NFSA by providing ration cards to the migrant population.
Once ration cards are issued in their respective states, migrant workers can avail benefits under NFSA under the one-nation, one-ration card (ONORC) initiative launched in 2019. Under the ONORC, ration-card-holders can avail their quota of grain entitlement from any fair price shop in the country by using the ration card issued in their home states or Union Territory, after biometric authentication.
Since the launch of the system, 778 million portable transactions — 60% under NFSA and the rest under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana — have taken place under ONORC. According to a recent food ministry statement, subsidised foodgrain worth `43,000 crore has been delivered to beneficiaries through ration card portability so far.
As per estimates, 60 million people migrate seasonally to various states in search of livelihoods. Another 80 million people are intra-state migrants.
Under NFSA, beneficiaries receive highly subsidised foodgrain — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg and coarse grain at Rs 1/kg monthly. These are referred to as central issue prices. Many states such as Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Tamil Nadu also subsidise foodgrain supplied under NFSA.