The idea was inspired by the rice-dispensing machines that were set up in Vietnam and Indonesia during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
Karnataka rice distribution: Coming soon – RICE ATMS in Karnataka! The government of Karnataka is planning to take its public distribution system (PDS) up a notch by installing rice-dispensing machines across the state for holders of ration cards. These dispensing machines are called the ‘Rice ATM’ by the state government, according to a report by IE. The report quoted Karnataka Food and Civil Supplies Minister K Gopalaiah as saying that the dispensing machines would ensure that the ration card holders would have access to rice at any hour of the day. With this, they would not have to stand in long queues at ration shops to get rice.
The report said that the idea was inspired by the rice-dispensing machines that were set up in Vietnam and Indonesia during the coronavirus-induced lockdown so that their citizens could get access to free rice.
The report further quoted the Karnataka minister as saying that two rice ATMs would be set up in the state on a pilot basis to assess whether the initiative would be feasible. If the pilot test produced positive results, then the initiative would be expanded throughout the state. Gopalaiah added that the move would especially benefit the people living Below Poverty Line (BPL), as during the day, they sometimes did not find the time to go to the PDS centre due to work. With the dispensing machines in place, the need to stand in queues at ration shops would be eliminated.
The minister also explained that as per the initial report for the project, the machines would be available in different sizes, ranging in capacity from 100 kg to 500 kg. In order to get rice, the person would have to insert a coin, and then a certain quantity of the rice would be dispensed.
The government is also mulling equipping the machines with smart card or biometric facilities similar to that at bank ATMs to make it more convenient to use.
Under the Anna Bhagya scheme, the state since 2013 has been providing every member of a BPL household with 5 kg rice a month, which the members of Above Poverty Level (APL) families get rice at Rs 15 for a kg. Apart from rice, under the scheme, other items like edible oils, kerosene, sugar, iodized salt, etc. are also provided to the ration card holders at subsidised prices.
The Karnataka government has already put in place dispensing machines for access to drinking water, with over 1,800 water ATMs in the state. In Bengaluru, these ATMs dispense mineral drinking water at Rs 5 for 20 litres.