Even as the Gujarat government plans to introduce the system of bar-coded ration cards by this year-end, people in remote villages with no Internet connectivity will be able to get ration from fair price shops only on a few fixed days, usually twice every month, since the system is based on coupons that are generated online.
In these villages, the civil supplies department will send teams to distribute coupons on fixed days with the help of tablets or iPads with Internet connectivity, a top official of the department said.
However, the department is yet to conduct a survey to ascertain the number of fair price shops located in areas that do not have e-gram centres, which are essentially gram panchayat offices with Internet facility running on Gujarat State Wide Area Network.
The bar-coded ration cards will have bio-metric details of at least one member of the card-holder’s family. For every transaction, the card holder is supposed to get a coupon to be issued by the civil supplies department online through e-gram, and submit it to fair price shop owner, who will in turn deposit it with the department. This is expected to help the state government keep track of the quota issued to curb black-marketing and ensure that ration reaches to the right beneficiary.
However, 5000-odd villages that still do not have Internet connectivity are posing a problem. “Over 13,000 villages in Gujarat have e-gram centres, but 5,000-odd villages still have no Internet connectivity. We need to find out how many fair price shops are located in these villages,” said a top official from civil supplies department.
Around 1.05 crore in Gujarat are ration card-holders. Of these, about 20 lakh names have been struck off as bogus since 2010 when the drive for bar-coded ration cards began.
The department hopes that by August, the system will be in the place in 80 per cent of Gujarat and by December, it will be fully implemented.