WB govt to link Aadhaar numbers with ration cards
The scheme, which originally faced criticism from the Mamata Banerjee-led government, will see the light of day in 2020, as it could help West Bengal save around Rs 500 crore annually in food distribution
November 27, 2019 / 09:49 AM IST
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s government has approved a proposal to link Aadhaar cards with ration cards, The Telegraph reported on Sunday. The state government’s food and supplies department has already started the process of seeding Aadhaar numbers with ration cards. The process should end by January 2020.
According to the report, sources told the West Bengal English daily that linking Aadhaar numbers with ration cards could help the West Bengal government save around Rs 500 crore annually in the distribution of food.
A senior government official confirmed the news, stating that the food and supplies department had put forth the proposal, following a Supreme Court order. Post the order, the Narendra Modi-led Central government has been pushing states to go for the process. However, Mamata, a vocal critic of the government’s Aadhaar policy, refused to link her Aadhaar to her mobile phone number.
The West Bengal Chief Minister changed her mind after an all-party meeting in September that okayed the proposal. Banerjee had initially raised questions about the need to seed Aadhaar numbers with ration cards.
However, her cabinet then informed her that the process could save Rs 500 for giving subsidised foodgrains to nearly eight crore residents of the state, as it could save pilferage. Her government also told her that the Centre was pushing hard for states to go with this scheme, following the Supreme Court order that made seeding of Aadhaar numbers mandatory for the beneficiaries of welfare schemes.
The West Bengal Food and Supplies department announced that 15 per cent of the funds could be saved if the state can stop pilferage from ration shops completely. Through the scheme, biometric details would be linked with ration cards, and only a beneficiary can withdraw their quota of subsidised grains by verifying biometric data.