AP detects glitches in Aadhaar-linked PDS distribution

State government’s study finds linking subsidized food grain distribution scheme to Aadhaar keeps beneficiaries out of the programme

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Sonal Matharu | September 28, 2015 | New Delhi



As the government of India is pushing for making the unique identification number (or aadhaar number) mandatory for accessing social welfare programmes, a recent study by the government of Andhra Pradesh shows that linking the 12-digit Aadhaar number to beneficiaries’ ration cards under the subsidized food grain distribution programme has lead to exclusion in the state.

The study found that more than 50 percent beneficiaries could not buy ration in the month of May because of reasons associated with Aadhaar. Either their fingerprint recognition failed or their Aadhaar numbers mismatched.

The Andhra Pradesh Food and Civil Supplies Corporation found that after the state installed Aadhaar-integrated electronic point-of-sale (E-PoS) machines at the fair price shops in May 2015, nearly one-fifth ration card holders did not buy their ration.

The E-PoS devices are handheld and electronically operated where the beneficiaries’ details such as how much ration they are entitled to receive per month, how much has been bought and how much is remaining is stored in a central server. Ration is given to beneficiaries depending on the details that show up after their Aadhaar number is fed into the device.

In many cases there was an Aadhaar mismatch, either the Aadhaar number did not match with the ration card number or the name of the beneficiary did not tally with the Aadhaar number. Malfunctioning of the E-PoS devices was another reason why beneficiaries could not purchase subsidized ration.

The study notes that the ration disbursement data captured from 5,358 fair price shops revealed that of 31,00,419 existing ration cards about 6,87,519 card holders did not take the ration in the month of May 2015. This is about 22 percent of the beneficiaries.

“When fair price shop-wise data was analysed it was found that in about 125 fair price shops the percentage of left over ration card holders is 50 percent and above. Of about 85,589 ration card holders in these 125 fair price shops, nearly 50,151 did not take ration in May 2015,” states the study.

When the government delved deeper in the issue, it was found that out of the 790 cases interviewed for the study, 400 reported exclusion. Out of the excluded cases, 290 were due to fingerprint mismatch and 93 were because of aadhaar card mismatch. The remaining 17 cases were due to failure of E-PoS.

The study was conducted in five shops - Mudigubba, Cheemakurthi, Ongole, Allur and Nellore – in three districts Prakasam, Nellore and Anantapur by the Society for Social Audit, Accountability and Transparency (SSAAT), an independent society under the department of rural development, government of Andhra Pradesh, set up to conduct social audits of the state’s flagship programmes.

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