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Portability of ration cards might be extended beyond March 2021: Food and Public Distribution Ministry

The government might extend the implementation of ration card portability under the ‘One Nation-One Ration Card’ initiative beyond March 2021, the Food Ministry said in a statement, without specifying a reason for considering this move. So far, 24 states and union territories have signed up for the scheme, and the government had earlier said that it plans to integrate the remaining states before March 2021. During the proposed extended period, funding requirements of states and UTs will also be met. The One Nation One Ration Card facility is a plan to ensure food security to all beneficiaries of the National Food Security Act (NFSA), 2013, irrespective of their physical location anywhere in the country, by implementing nationwide portability of ration cards.

This was discussed during a meeting of the Empowered Committee of the Food Department on schemes for PDS (public distribution system) reforms to review and approve the extension of the Integrated Management of Public Distribution Scheme (IM-PDS), under which the One Nation One Ration Card plan has been implemented. The Department’s Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey, UIDAI’s CEO Pankaj Kumar, director general of NIC Neeta Verma, food secretaries of four states, and representatives of IT Ministry and Food Council of India were present at the meeting.

The Empowered Committee also reviewed the progress of other related plans such as Aadhaar generation/seeding and the development of a mobile application aimed to help migrant beneficiaries to register themselves to avail benefits of the scheme. The Department is also planning to implement a national helpline number in various states and UTs with an aim to allow for migrant beneficiaries to avail portability under the scheme.

When the government had first introduced the scheme, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had claimed that it will benefit 67 crore people in 23 states, or 83% of the PDS population, by August 2020. The 24 states and UTs which have signed up for the facility are: Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Services under the system can be used via ePOS devices installed at PDS fair price shops, and can be accessed by beneficiaries by quoting either their ration card number or the Aadhaar number to any fair price shop dealer across the country. Anyone in a family, who has seeded Aadhaar with a ration card can undergo authentication. There is no need to share or carry the ration card or Aadhaar card. Beneficiaries can undergo Aadhaar authentication by using their fingerprint- or iris-based identification.

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