Nearly 210.6 million ration cards, or about 90% of the 234 million ration cards under the National Food Security Act have been linked with the Aadhaar number of at least one member of the beneficiary household under Public Distribution System (PDS) reforms, the Department of Food and Public Distribution revealed in Rajya Sabha on March 13.

MPs Chhaya Verma (Congress), Sukhram Singh Yadav (Samajwadi Party) and Sampatiya Uikey (BJP) had also asked if consumers faced invonveniences due to “mandatory requirement of Aadhaar and thumb impression in PDS”. To this, Minister of State Danve Raosaheb Dadarao said that while all states and UTs must link ration cards of beneficiaries to their Aadhaar numbers by March 31, 2020, pursuant to a notification dated December 24, 2019, but

“no genuine beneficiaries/households shall be denied from their entitled foodgrains under NFSA [National Food Security Act, 2013], only on the ground of not possessing an Aadhaar number, or due to any technical failure of ePoS device including failure of biometric/Aadhaar authentication of beneficiary owing to network/connectivity/linking issues” — Minister of State Danve Raosaheb Dadarao

Since the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services) Act, 2016, was passed, the deadline to link ration cards and Aadhaar numbers has been extended ten times. In another answer in the Rajya Sabha, Dadarao revealed that NFSA would cover about 800 million people.

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29.8 ineligible ration cards removed

The states and union territories have also removed 29.8 million ineligible ration cards since 2013, Dadarao informed Rajya Sabha. This is due to digitisation of ration cards/beneficiaries’ database, online detection of inelegible/duplicate ration cards, migration/deaths of beneficiaries, de-duplication with Aadhaar, and the implementation of NFSA.