‘One Nation One Ration’ card | Ram Vilas Paswan to approach Telecom Minister regarding Internet problem in hilly States

With hilly States complaining of poor Internet connection as the main hurdle for implementation of the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ scheme, Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan on Thursday said he will approach his telecom counterpart to resolve the matter at the earliest.

One Nation, One Ration Card scheme postponed, says Food Minister

So far, 20 States have joined the Centre’s ‘One Nation One Ration Card’ initiative, under which eligible beneficiaries would be able to avail their entitled foodgrains under the National Food Security Act (NFSA) from any fair price shop in the country using the same ration card. Three more States are expected to come on board by August 1.

The government is aiming to implement the facility fully across the country by March 2021.

Mr. Paswan, who reviewed the progress of infrastructure in 13 States and Union Territories who are yet to roll out the ration card portability, said: “Some hilly States have raised Internet connectivity issues. We will take up this matter with the Telecom Minister and resolve the issue at the earliest.”

In the meeting, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Andaman and Nicobar complained that they are facing slow Internet connection and poor mobile data for use of biometric system-based point of sales (POS) machines in all ration shops, also called fair price shops.

A Food Department official from Meghalaya said the slow Internet connectivity issue is a major problem in implementation of ration card portability in the State.

The State would install ePoS machines by November-end and implement across the State by December 1, provided the slow Internet connection issue is resolved, he said.

Nagaland, which is providing portability service in 75 ration shops at present, expressed similar concern saying getting Internet access in remote areas is a problem. However, the State is geared up to roll out the facility by next month, the State official said in the meeting.

In Uttarakhand, the State official said that it has resumed installation of ePoS machines in ration shops and biometric authentication of beneficiaries. It is likely to roll out the initiative by August.

“We will be able to cover 500 ration shops in remote areas after the COVID-19 crisis. In these shops, not only devices are not functioning but Internet connectivity is also a problem,” the official added.

However other States such as Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal shared they are facing budgetary and other problems in implementation of the initiative and sought more time to implement the initiative.

Chhattisgarh said it would be difficult to cover 3,000 rations shops located in Naxal-hit areas in the State. Otherwise the State will try to roll out the facility in the next two months.

An official from Jammu and Kashmir said barring south Kashmir districts, the Union Territory is well prepared to provide the facility as test trials were successfully conducted recently.

While West Bengal said it will take more time to implement due to cyclone and coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, a Delhi government official said it will implement by September-end as a Cabinet proposal has been moved on ePoS machines.

So far, ration card portability has been enabled in 20 States and UTs – Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Daman & Diu, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Kerala, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Mizoram.

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