Click to keep tabs on fair price shops

By Gaurav Sharma, IANS,

New Delhi : There’s good news for the capital’s 3.1 million “ration card holders”, a term used for those who can access the 2,500 shops under the public distribution system (PDS) here. A new software is about to help them keep tabs on their quota, say officials.

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Delhi’s food and supplies department will introduce – from August on a trial basis – a common application software (CAS) through which a card holder can also monitor the ration distributed by these fair price shops, often accused of fudging records and black marketing.

This can be done by accessing the department website, say officials.

“The purpose of introducing this software is to use technology to improve and bring transparency in the PDS,” a department official told IANS.

“All the orders and distribution of food will be generated with the help of this web-enabled software,” he added.

With the help of this software, the Food Corporation of India, the central government and the state’s department of food and supplies will be interlinked – making the functioning of PDS smoother.

Not only this, all the fair price shops in the city will be linked to the National Informatics Centre (NIC) which will keep the entire data of these shops.

“The closing stock and the opening stock will be digitised and put on the department’s website which will stop the owners to indulge in black marketing and selling of ration earmarked for the poor in the open market,” the official added.

Officials said CAS will help reduce the problem of pilferage of foodgrain from stores as the department will have information regarding the quantity of stock.

“The genuine ration card holder would not be denied ration in the shops as he would be able to know about the status of his quota by using the finger print device installed at every fair price shop,” said another official.

The data of Unique Identification Number (UID) holders will also be linked to CAS. This will help the UID number holders procure ration cards without additional formalities.

“The UID card holders will not have to submit other documents to apply for their ration card which is a cumbersome process,” the official said.

“Their data will be maintained in the system as a result of which they will not have to submit any identity proof for applying for ration cards,” he added.

Ranjana Nagpal, who is heading the computerization project on PDS at NIC, said the various roles performed by each organisation in the PDS — the state government, the circle office, the district commissioner’s office, fair price shops and the public — will be available on the software.

“It is a great step. Different offices can log into the software system and view the data which will be available at the centralised server at NIC. The software will also capture the details of sale to the beneficiary and all the transactions,” Nagpal told IANS.

According to officials, the software would be launched in August in west Delhi on a trial basis and introduced later in other parts of the capital in a phased manner.

“We are checking the reliability and efficacy of the software. We will launch the software in August in west Delhi,” said an official,

“The department is also training officials of the west zone on the software,” added the official.

(Gaurav Sharma can be contacted at [email protected])