Jharkhand government has announced to stop biometric authentication enabled ration delivery from public distribution shops (PDS) with immediate effect till May 31 to thwart fears of possible spread of Covid-19, which in its second wave is taking increasing toll on human lives and infecting thousands.
Issuing a letter in this regard to all the districts on Friday night, state Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department’s additional secretary Shantanu Agrahari has asked all to revert to offline mode of PDS delivery till the end of next month.
“As a precautionary measure in view of growing cases of Covid-19 in the state, it has been decided to stop the online system of PDS delivery. In place of taking thumb impression and retina scan on ePoS machines, PDS dealers should issue ration through one time password (OTP) generated on the registered mobile numbers of the legitimate beneficiaries. In case the OTP fails to generate on time due to network congestion issues, then PDS dealers must provide ration to the bonafide beneficiary by noting their details and allocation on registers through manual mode,” read the letter.
All district supply officers are mandated to ensure uploading of the status of ration delivery within three days on government portal for keeping better track of the PDS supply. Jharkhand has about 58 lakh PDS beneficiaries who are covered under the National Food Security Act. This apart, the state government has provided ration cards to about 13 lakh more beneficiaries who were left out of the Act.
Amid the growing cases of covid-19, infection through ePoS machines is said to have caused deaths of two PDS dealers recently. Flagging the issue, JMM’s Jama MLA Sita Soren had on April 18 shot letters to chief minister Hemant Soren and state food and civil supplies minister Rameshwar Oraon informing them about deaths in Ranchi’s ward 29 and demanded to immediately withdraw biometric authentication system of ration.
Following the government's notification to halt this system, Sita Soren, the CM’s sister-in-law, tweeted about her contentment. “I had raised this matter with CM and Rameshwar Oraonji recently. Taking my suggestion in right earnest, the state government has finally notified the same,” she tweeted.