Bar-coded ration cards soon, state tells High Court

The state government told Bombay High Court (HC) on Wednesday it will soon issue bar-coded ration cards to curb fraud.

B B Narayankar, deputy secretary in the food and civil supplies department (FCSD), said in an affidavit FCSD carried out three special drives and deleted 54.07 lakh bogus ration cards in the state in the past seven years.

The affidavit was filed in reply to a PIL by Bhrashtachar Virodhi Jan Andolan alleging irregularities in issuing and transferring ration cards. The petitioner claimed fair price shop-owners were hoarding commodities, resulting in a Rs 25,000-crore fraud.

The affidavit said of the 54.07 crore ration cards that were deleted, 42.76 lakh were held by above poverty line families, 6.36 lakh by below poverty line families and the remaining 2.15 lakh by beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

It said the bar-coded cards would have photographs of heads of families. However, it will take at least a year to set up the system.

The affidavit said data regarding about 1.1 crore cards had been fed to computers. After new ration cards are issued, names and other information would be put up online.

An administrative committee led by FCSD principal secretary was formed on November 5 to devise a mechanism to issue bar-coded ration cards to all families in the state. The affidavit said the committee report was expected in six months.

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