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Ration Card

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Ration card means a document issued under an order or authority of the State Government for the purchase of essential commodities from the fair price shops under the Public Distribution System (PDS) / Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS).

Essentially it is a card / document that enables rationing of scarce commodities. In the present day context, ration card may not be necessarily for the distribution of scarce commodities, rather, it is a general tool for implementing welfare measures. A Ration Card enables a citizen to procure essential commodities at a subsidised rate and also used to function as an important tool of identification (eg. for obtaining Voter’s ID / membership in electoral rolls etc. However, under Order, 2015.pdf TPDS (Control) Order, 2015 it is stipulated that Ration card shall not be used as a document of identity or proof of residence)

Though ration cards have been in use for a very long time, the term got legally defined later in Section 2(16) of National Food Security Act, 2013.

Ration Card is issued per family. It is voluntary and not compulsory for citizens to acquire it. However, all those citizens who want to get subsidised food may need to get that.

State Governments issue distinctive Ration Cards to Above Poverty Line, Below Poverty Line and Antyodaya families (means those poorest families from amongst Below Poverty Line (BPL) families identified by the State Governments and entitled to receive foodgrains under the Antyodaya Anna Yojana through a special ration card issued for the purpose) and conduct periodical review and checking of Ration Cards. In addition to permanent Ration Cards, States also issue temporary Ration Cards, which are valid for a specified number of months, and are issued for relief purposes.

Since the enactment of National Food Security Act, 2013, the eldest woman who is not less than eighteen years of age, in every eligible household, would function as the head of the household for the purpose of issue of ration cards. If the household at any time does not have a woman or a woman of eighteen years of age or above, but has a female member below the age of eighteen years, then, the eldest male member of the household would be the head of the household for the purpose of issue of ration card and the female member, on attaining the age of eighteen years, would become the head of the household for such ration cards in place of such male member.

The entre ration card database in all the States/UTs has been digitised and card details are available on transparency /civil supplies department's portal of all States. As in May 2016, over 55% of these ration cards have been linked with the biometric based unique identity card of the citizens (Aadhaar cards). As on 6 May 2016, Point of Sale (Merchant) Devices have been installed in over 1.11 lakh ration / Fair price shops out of 5.32 such shops, so as to keep electronic record of allocation to the beneficiaries.

All the 36 States /Union Territories (UTs) have online redressal of PDS grievances and maintains a toll free number for beneficiaries. Online allocation of foodgrains is being made in 20 states.

In terms of the PDS (Control) Order, 2001, dated 31.08.2001, State/UT Governments are to review the lists of BPL and AAY families every year for the purpose of deletion of ineligible families and inclusion of eligible families. The exercise of deletion of bogus/ineligible cards and inclusion of eligible families is a continuous process and State Governments are to periodically carry out the same. The Order, 2015.pdf TPDS (Control) Order, 2015 notified on 20.03.2015 also calls for all the necessary action to be taken by State/UT Governments for review of list of beneficiaries and deletion of bogus /ineligible ration cards. As a result of implementation of Nine Point Action Plan since July 2006, 30 State/UT Governments have reported up to 30.06.2015, deletion of 494.50 lakhs bogus / ineligible ration cards.

The procedure and time limit for issue of ration card may vary from State to State. There is also a provision for making amendments to valid Ration Cards. The designated authority by the state governments may issue a ration card to an eligible applicant within a reasonable time not exceeding one month of the date of receipt of the application after necessary checks and verification. The State Government can prescribe the detailed procedure for finalisation of the list of eligible households covering, inter-alia, aspects like the process of inviting applications online, drawing up of draft list, putting the draft list in the public domain including reading out of the list in meetings of the Gram Sabha or equivalent body in urban areas, inviting objections, disposal of objections, appeals and so on.

e-PDS portal provides vital information on policies related to PDS, information on Central and State schemes, price of PDS commodities, allocation and offtake details, stake holders information, fair price shop details, ration card information etc., Apart from the Centrally provided data, the portal provides links to PDS related websites of the various States to know the PDS related information / ration card holders details etc.

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