The One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) platform will be available across the country very soon, Union food secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said on Monday. Delhi, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Assam are yet to implement the programme, which allows mobility of in-kind benefits, such as food subsidy. It is operational in 32 states at present, he said.

The programme is a digitized version of India’s public distribution system (PDS) for distributing cheap foodgrain to about 739 million beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act 2013.

The digitization of the PDS, which is a network of nearly 500,000 fair-price outlets, allows a beneficiary, such as a migrant worker, to access her share of subsidized ration from anywhere in India regardless of the place where the ration card is registered. In other words, it allows full mobility of food entitlements. “Delhi will start the scheme very soon. Trials and testing are currently on,” Pandey said.

Digitization of the PDS system involves installation of e-point-of-sale (PoS) machines at fair price shops, which are similar to card-swiping machines and record transactions.

The Delhi government will start off with 2,005 machines covering the national capital.

Teams from Delhi and central governments, besides the National Informatics Centre are testing the system, said an official, seeking anonymity.

The Delhi government had earlier stalled the digitization process and, instead, recently proposed to launch a scheme to deliver wheat flour to the homes of beneficiaries. The Centre had said it was free to launch its own scheme, but it could not use foodgrain under the National Food Security Act 2013 for the purpose.

On 18 June, the Centre had asked the Delhi government to comply with all the provisions of the Act, and file a compliance report by 30 June, shows a letter from the food ministry to the secretary-cum-commissioner of Delhi’s food and civil supplies department.

On 30 June, the Supreme Court said all states must implement the ‘One Nation, One Ration Card’ programme by 30 June. “Delhi is almost ready to go ahead with One Nation, One Ration Card,” Pandey said.

Under the Food Security Act, each beneficiary receives 5kg of wheat and rice per month at 2 and 3 per kg, respectively. A section of extremely poor households receive 35kg of foodgrain a month under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY).

Delhi has 1.75 million ration card holders, besides, around 68,730 “poorest of poor” AAY families, comprising slightly over 200,000 individuals.

According to the 2011 Census, 43.5% of Delhi’s 10.67 million is entitled for foodgrain under the food-security law.

West Bengal, will also complete installing the required infrastructure to launch the scheme, the official cited above added. Chhattisgarh will complete purchase of 4,000 e-PoS machines for its PDS system in July to get started with the One Nation, One Ration Card system. Assam has also started the process of seeding the Aadhaar card of beneficiaries to roll out the system.

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