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Work on photo-ration cards starts in West Bengal

Identification and collection of data for preparation of digital ration cards were launched today in 11 out of 20 districts of the state

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The work for preparing bar-coded photo-ration cards which would be introduced by the state government to ensure effective public distribution system in the state, weed out bogus beneficiaries and check hoarding of foodgrains, started today.

State food and civil supplies department minister Jyotipriya Mullick said the scheme is primarily aimed at checking large-scale illegal diversion of PDS commodities to the open market, manage the supply chain, eliminate and ensure accurate targeting of state subsidy.

"All existing rations cards would be scrapped," Mullick said while speaking at a function at Singur in Hooghly district in the presence of state agriculture minister Becharam Manna and another state minister Rabindranath Bhattacharjee.

Mullick attended a similar programme in connection with the collection of data for the digital cards at Salap in Howrah district near Kolkata.

He said identification and collection of data for preparation of digital ration cards were launched today in 11 out of 20 districts of the state and distribution of the cards would start from January 6 or 7.

Stating that introduction of digital ration cards was as per the directive of Chief Minister , he said work for collection of data was launched from Singur, where anti-land acquisition stir was launched by the farmers.

The scheme would cost the state Rs 112 crore in the first phase, of which the Centre has assured to contribute Rs 25.33 crore, he said.

"We are yet to receive funds from the Centre," he said, adding at present there were 1.77 crore bogus ration cards.

The state has 14 crore ration cards and digital cards were being prepared on the basis of the National Population Register and Socio-Economic Caste Survey, he said.

The minister expressed confidence that strong vigilance over the entire operation would expose nexus between dealers and distributors and said special measures have been taken for people in Junglemahal and Darjeeling Hills.

He said if one crore fake ration cards were cancelled, it would save the state government Rs 60 crore per month on subsidy amount.

Existing ration card-holders in these eleven districts would have to report to their ration shops by November 30 for enlistment of details in the data bank, Mullick said.

The districts where work for collection of data for the preparation of new digital ration cards started today were Howrah, South Dinajpur, Coochbehar,, North 24 Parganas, Burdwan, Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia, East Midnapur, Hooghly and Kolkata.

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