- Delhi government introduced fingerprint scanners in ration shops
- Technical issues cause large number of mismatches
- Corrective measures promised, yet to be delivered
She is not the only one. These devices were set up in all 2,255 ration shops across Delhi from January 1 by the Delhi government in order to verify ration cardholders' identities by matching their fingerprints against the Aadhaar database over the internet and clampdown on corruption. Non-recognition of fingerprints and connectivity issues in machines have been depriving many of their rations.
Many of those who did not receive rations were told to come after January 15 as the government had declared it would introduce iris scan and one time password from that day to solve the fingerprint issue. However, till date there are no signs of it, leaving people helpless.
While 1 kg rice costs Rs 3 at the ration shop, the same is sold at Rs 35 outside. For 1 kg wheat, the cost is Rs 2 at the ration shop but in order to buy it from outside one has to shell-out Rs 20.
According to data provided by the Delhi government, out of the over 15 lakh ration card holders who attempted to withdraw rations, a majority of 98 per cent succeeded. But the failure of 2 per cent, though small in percentage terms is a huge number of 26,201 households.
Food Supplies Minister Imran Hussain claimed, "The system is still under trial and wherever there are connectivity issues. We are trying to resolve them by providing antennas and replacing SIM cards."
The government circular says that in cases of authentication failure shopkeepers are allowed to distribute ration manually but only up to 8 per cent customers attached to the shop. If sale needs to exceed 8 per cent, a government appointed Special Officer will have to be deployed at the shop.
The Delhi government carried out a pilot project for these PoS machines in 97 ration shops across Delhi in December. On December 15, the Delhi Sarkaari Ration Dealers Sangh wrote a letter to the government informing them about the connectivity issues in machines and fingerprints of a large number of people not getting matched but the government never responded to it and launched it across all shops from January 1.
The Delhi government has now taken note of the glitches in the system. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's office has said that nobody will be deprived of ration, adding it will reissue instructions to all ration shops to allow distribution if the biometric system fails. Government officials will visit ration shops and action will be taken against dealers who are found guilty of violation of rules, the Delhi government said. The Food Supplies Department will come up with a plan to resolve the issue and Food Supplies Minister Imran Hussain will hold a meeting with officials today to discuss remedial measures.