New Delhi: The Covid pandemic has offered a big push to the government initiative allowing portability of ration cards, a facility that lets beneficiaries access fair price shops beyond their home turf.
Of the 23 crore portability transactions that have taken place since the scheme was launched in August 2019, around 67 per cent — or 15.4 crore — took place between April 2020 and February 2021, according to government data revealed at a press conference Friday to mark the launch of the ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ mobile app.
The press conference was held by the Department of Food and Public Distribution Secretary Sudhanshu Panday and Joint Secretary S. Jagannathan.
A portability transaction would mean a beneficiary buying rations at any other fair price shop apart from the one they are linked to, within their home state or outside.
The increase in portability transactions comes as the coverage of the initiative has been widened to 32 states/Union Territories (as of December 2020), from 12 states/UTs in April 2020.
The scheme now covers over 69 crore beneficiaries, or 86 per cent of the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act (NFSA), the government officials said at the press conference.
The government aims to make the scheme live across the country to allow beneficiaries of the NFSA and other welfare schemes, especially migrant workers and their families, access any fair price shop (FPS), wherever they are.
Addressing the press conference, Panday said the transactions and coverage have increased due to “massive digitisation of ration cards, FPS, and (the introduction of) POS machines by states”.
This was “further augmented by targeted outreach to migrant NFSA beneficiaries in the last 6 months” to spread awareness about the scheme, he added. The ministries of labour, housing and urban affairs, railways, and information & broadcasting were also engaged to increase the reach of the campaign, he added.
Pandey said Assam, West Bengal, Delhi and Chhattisgarh are the only states/UTs where the scheme is yet to be operational.
However, Jagannathan said West Bengal and Delhi are likely to come on board in about a month as “ration card seeding with Aadhaar and its integration with POS machines available at FPS have almost been completed”.
Assam and Chhattisgarh are likely to take some time implementing the scheme. “The state of Assam has achieved 30 per cent seeding, and Chhattisgarh is still procuring POS machines for the FPS shops. It might take a while for implementation of the scheme in these two states,” Pandey added.
The government Friday also launched the ‘Mera Ration’ mobile app to help citizens avail of ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ by helping them identify their nearest fair price shops, and monitor their food grain transactions.