The Narendra Modi-led government is aiming big on Aadhaar-based biometric authentication, which it plans to roll out at all fair price shops across the country by end-2016. It is also looking to use the mechanism to identify beneficiaries of kerosene subsidies, Business Standard has learnt. The Centre, with help from states, has already rolled out biometric authentication facilities in around 50,000 fair price shops, including 44 in Delhi, to identify beneficiaries of subsidised foodgrains under the public distribution system. There are around 500,000 fair price shops in all states and Union territories combined.
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Indications are that it might be extended. "The states have to ramp up digitisation and linking of beneficiaries' data; Otherwise, the aim of rolling out biometric authentication nationwide might fall short of our target," said another official. According to data available on the website of the ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution, while nearly all states have completed digitisation of fair price shops and godown data, 13 states are lagging behind in ration card data. These include Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and West Bengal. Only six states have taken the lead in digitising the data of beneficiaries - Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Others have either not started at all, or only implemented in very few blocks and districts. According to data available on the Unique Identification Authority of India website, as on October 31, the percentage of Aadhaar penetration, compared to a state's population, was as low as 1.7 per cent. In Assam and Meghalaya, it was 1.4 per cent.