Srinagar- The consumer affairs and public distribution (CAPD) department is likely to introduce smart ration cards for over 25 lakh consumers across Jammu and Kashmir through the public distribution system (SMART-PDS), as part of the Union Territory administration’s digital governance initiative.
The motive behind the move, a CAPD official said, was to reduce human intervention and promote automation in the existing processes. Besides, he said, the introduction of smart ration cards will also prevent pilferage of food grains and increase the efficiency of the distribution chain.
The official, who insisted not to be named, told Kashmir Observer that the SMART-PDS is a system through which smart ration cards are issued to beneficiaries of public distribution systems.
“Ration is given through fair price shops on production of the smart ration card by any member of the beneficiary family. The fingerprint template of the beneficiary is recorded in these smart ration cards, which records all transactions,” he said.
“The primary objectives of this initiative include curbing the pilferage of food grains, enhancing the efficiency of the distribution network, and ensuring the accessibility of essential provisions for migrant populations,” he added.
The smart ration card will be provided to the consumers falling in both above poverty line (APL) or below poverty line (BPL) categories.
Rajinder Kumar, Under Secretary to the Government, told Kashmir Observer that the plan is in its initial stage and the committee has been constituted to submit a report.
Notably, to bring the specifications of these smart ration cards to fruition within the public distribution system, the CAPD has formed a dedicated committee. The official order firmly establishes the composition of this committee, as follows:
Chairman: The Director of Finance, Department of FCS&CA, J&K
Member: The Director of the Department of FCS&CA
Member: The Director of Department of FCS&CA Jammu
Member: Special Secretary of the Department of FCS&CA
Member: A Representative from SIO NIC
Member: A Representative from IT (not below the rank of Additional Secretary)
The order stipulates that this committee is tasked with finalizing the specifications for the smart ration card designed for use under the Public Distribution System, with a strict one-week deadline for their recommendations.
Earlier this year, the Union Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution issued a resounding call to action, urging every state and Union Territory to implement the SMART-PDS initiative.
This groundbreaking scheme for modernisation and reforms through technology in the public distribution system, or SMART-PDS, is a visionary endeavor launched by the Department of Food and Public Distribution with the primary goal of revolutionizing the targeted PDS.
It is pertinent to mention that J&K’s Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had announced 10 kg additional ration at subsidized rates for priority households of UT under Prime Minister’s Food Supplementation Scheme for Priority households.
“This will be a chip-based system akin to ATM’s. It will take some time as the process is in its initial stage. The committee will file the report to the government, and then the future course of action will be discussed,” Kumar told Kashmir Observer, adding “This will bring transparency in food grains distribution.”
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