Bengal govt races against time to complete seeding of Aadhaar with ration cards under Centre’s scheme
The Bengal government is racing against time to complete the seeding of Aadhaar with ration cards under the Centre’s “one nation, one ration card” scheme, with the deadline just two weeks away.
In all, Bengal has 9.8 crore ration cards. The state has completed the seeding of Aadhaar with only about 50 per cent ration cards. Meeting the deadline will be difficult, said government sources, explaining that the task involves seeding of Aadhaar with ration cards and then authenticating data. Sources said the authentication process was complete for only 27 per cent of cards.
“Because of slow Internet in rural areas and mismatch in personal details given in the ration and Aadhaar cards, the seeding of Aadhaar with ration cards is getting delayed.… It will be embarrassing if we can’t complete the process
by July 31 as that is the last date to upload details of the beneficiaries of the NFSA (National Food Security Act) on the Centre’s portal for the allotment of food grains,” said a government official.
The Centre has been laying stress on seeding Aadhaar with ration cards for the past few years.
However, the Bengal government had been resisting it as chief minister Mamata Banerjee was unsure of sharing details of the state’s citizens against the backdrop of the Centre’s new citizenship matrix.
“Recently, the Supreme Court asked the state to complete the process by July 31. As we started late compared to other states, it’s taking time,” said an official.
The sources said the state government had been facing snags ever since it started the work over three months ago.
The process has two steps.
First, the ration dealers enter details of Aadhaar cards and biometric data of the beneficiaries in PoS (point of sale) machines.
Then, the food department matches with Aadhaar cards the details of digital ration cards stored in the central server of the department at Khadya Bhavan. “A beneficiary’s ration card is authenticated only when its details and those in the Aadhaar card match,” an official said.
According to the sources, the food and supplies department is facing large-scale mismatch.
“There may be a spelling mistake or a wrong address on Aadhaar cards. But there is little time left to correct the Aadhaar cards and re-enter details. We don’t know what will happen after July 31,” said another official.
Insiders said the Centre had told the state verbally that it would allot food grains only to those whose names are uploaded in the central server after ration cards are tagged with Aadhaar cards. “If that is so, a number of beneficiaries in the state will face a real problem amid the pandemic,” said a source.
Now, the Centre allots cheap food grains for 6.01 crore people in the state under the NFSA.
A senior official said the state was trying its best to complete the process by engaging Webel, a state-owned company. “If we can’t complete the process on time, we will seek more time citing the problems,” said the official.