New Atta-Dal Scheme to get biometric push
Chandigarh: Taking a cue from Haryana, Punjab is set to distribute wheat — and dal, sugar and tea leaves, as and when funds are arranged for the same — through a computerised system. The 1.39 crore beneficiaries under the Food For All Scheme will now get subsidised ration only after they give their biometric details at the notified retail outlet.The Aadhaar seeding of 97.3 per cent of the beneficiaries under the scheme has been completed. Now, they will have to provide their Aadhaar number and other details at ePOS (point of sale) machines being installed at all government ration depots. There will be no need to carry ration cards — just a biometric impression on the machine will enable them to take away their share.A formal approval for the scheme is likely to be obtained from the Council of Ministers during the Cabinet meeting tomorrow.Under the Food for All Scheme, referred to as the New Atta Dal Scheme in Punjab, each beneficiary gets 5 kg of wheat at Rs 2 per kg, distributed every six months. Under this scheme, the state government was initially also distributing dal (500 gm per person per month at Rs 20 per kg). Because of financial constraints, and with the price of pulses shooting up, Punjab has not been able to give pulses to the beneficiaries for the past two years.A pilot scheme, using biometrics, was launched by the Food and Supplies Department in Mohali earlier this month. KAP Sinha, Secretary, Food and Supplies, told The Tribune that the move would help in bringing transparency and eliminating bogus beneficiaries. A record of the date and time when the wheat is distributed would also be maintained. There have been numerous complaints that people have not been getting wheat on time or that it is eluding genuine beneficiaries.The government is in talks with three public sector undertaking for buying ePOS machines. A verification of the beneficiaries is already being done across the state. More than 85 per cent of the work has been completed; 5.64 lakh people have been found ineligible so far. These were enrolled during the previous government’s tenure ahead of the elections.“After weeding out all who are ineligible, we will be able to start distributing sugar (1 kg per month) and tea leaves (100 gm per month) among the atta-dal beneficiaries,” a senior officer said, adding that the biometric system would also ensure that only eligible people got subsidised food.