Complete digitisation of ration cards and linking them to Aadhaar number of beneficiaries has helped the government weed out over 2.75 crore duplicate and bogus ration cards that were used to get highly subsidised foodgrains.
Food ministry officials said though the entire process of digitisation of ration cards had started in January 2013, it gained momentum in the past four years. “We have plugged the leakage of subsidised wheat, rice and coarse grains to the tune of Rs 17,500 crore annually. Though there is no direct savings because new beneficiaries also get added, now we are providing the foodgrains to the real beneficiaries,” food and consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan said.
According to government data, about 23.19 crore ration cards have been issued to people under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). While all the ration cards have been digitised, the progress of linking ration cards to Aadhaar numbers is about 82%. “More bogus ration cards will be out of the system once we have 100% Aadhaar seeding,” Paswan said.
Data compiled by the food ministry show that nearly 50% of the deleted ration cards across the country came from Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. A large number of bogus ration cards were also deleted in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
NFSA is the world’s largest welfare scheme, which targets ensuring food security to more than 80 crore eligible beneficiaries.