SRINAGAR: It is two years now that point-of-sale (POS) devices, made mandatory under the Food Security Act, have not been installed in the government’s food ration shops.
Director of Food Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, Kashmir Division, Nisar Ahmad Wani told Kashmir Reader that POS devices which would link consumers to a computer database are not yet in place because tenders announced for them have failed.
“As of now, three times the tenders have been invited for installation of the machines. The first time we received only one tender, and it was dropped. The next time we received two, but there was fighting between the two applicants and because of it we did not grant the tender. The third time there was an issue with the deal. Now we have invited tenders again, and we have told the government that we will grant it even if we get only one bid,” Wani said.
At present, nearly 70 lakh people are taking rice from the government’s rations shops. The rationing is done though a manual process. A registered consumer’s monthly quota is subtracted on a ration card and in case he does not take it, his quota lapses. The rice that is not taken is either sold at market price at the ration shop, called ‘fair price shop’, or is retained as stock.
Wani said that the POS machines can put an end to this archaic method. A consumer would be given an ATM-like card through which he can transact his monthly quota. If he wishes not to take it, the quota will remain reserved for one year. The machines will be installed across Kashmir Valley at government-run fair price shops.
“After having a bad experience of the machines not getting installed because of unsuccessful tenders, we have now decided to go ahead even with one tender (bid). We have invited tenders again and I am hopeful that this year the machines will be installed across the valley,” Wani said.
As per the Food Security Act, a consumer below the poverty line would get rice at Rs 3 a kg. Consumers above the poverty line would get rice at Rs 15 per kg.
When the Act was implanted, people hit the roads in protest, claiming that their monthly quota had been reduced. This prompted the state government to launch a scheme under the name of former chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, to provide additional food grain at the same rate to those whose quota was being reduced under the Food Security Act.