On Monday, the food ministry extended the deadline for seeding of Aadhaar with ration cards till September and stressed that all beneficiaries will continue to get their quota of foodgrains regardless of their possession of Aadhaar. The ministry also clarified that ration cards of those who do not provide Aadhar number will not be cancelled.
"The timeline given to all states/UTs, under the Aadhaar notification of the Department of Food and Public Distribution dated February 7, 2017 (as amended from time-to-time) to complete the seeding of Aadhaar numbers with all ration cards/beneficiaries, has been extended up to September 30, 2020 by the department," an official statement said.
Until then, the ministry had issued clear instructions to all states and union territories (UTs) that no genuine beneficiary or household should be denied from the entitled quota of food grains, it said.
"Their names/ration cards should not be deleted/cancelled only on the ground of not possessing an Aadhaar number," the ministry said.
Instructions have also been issued that grains under the food law should not be denied due to failure of Aadhaar authentication of beneficiary because of poor biometrics of the beneficiary, issues with network connectivity, linking or any other technical reasons.
"During the current crisis situation, a pragmatic approach is needed so that no poor or deserving person or family is denied access to food grains...," the statement said.
At present, nearly 90 percent of all 23.5 crore ration cards are already seeded with Aadhaar numbers of ration cardholders (i.e. at least one member of the family).
The ministry started the implementation of national/inter-state portability of ration card holders under "One Nation One Ration Card" plan as part of a central sector scheme on 'Integrated Management of Public Distribution System' to protect the interest of poor and migratory beneficiaries.
"To achieve seamless inter-state portability transactions of a ration card, it is essential to have a centralised repository for maintaining unique ration cards/beneficiaries' data of all states and UTs covered under the NFSA," the statement said.
Therefore, the ministry said that the seeding of Aadhaar numbers becomes critical in establishing a unique record of each eligible ration card holder and beneficiary in the country so that his or her entitlement is protected.
To provide relief during the lockdown, the Centre is providing an additional 5 kg of foodgrains per month free of cost for three months period till June.