Ration card holders in Uttar Pradesh will now get information about the availability of food grains in fair price shops under the Public Distribution System (PDS) through SMS on their mobile phones.
The scheme pioneered by the State Food and Civil Supplies Department was launched by the Chief Secretary, Atul Kumar Gupta here on Monday.
Even though the APL (above poverty line) families are covered under the scheme, the programme basically caters to the BPL and Antyavodaya card holders numbering about 1.6 crore in the State and it is not necessary that all the card holders possess a cell phone.
“Even a couple of SMSs would suffice in disseminating information to the rest of card holders in the villages”, Mr. Gupta said at a press conference here. The Chief Secretary said it is the endeavour of the Government to ensure the availability of their quota of wheat, rice, sugar and kerosene oil to the poor BPL and Antyavodaya families.
The SMSs will contain information about the quota of food grains, the name of the fair price shop owner and the date of delivery. To begin with, Jalaun and Bahraich have been chosen as pilot districts under the scheme.
Once the food grains quota is lifted by the FP shop owner information would be relayed to 10 to 15 mobile phone owners in the village or locality as the case may be. If any other person wanted the SMS he should get his cell phone number registered with the Food and Civil Supplies Department and the concerning district supply officer (DSO).
Mr. Gupta, however, said that the scheme might not be able to check the diversion of food grains from the FP shops and black marketing. But, a beginning has been made in this direction as once the quota reaches the fair price shop diversion would be practically impossible, the Chief Secretary added. He claimed that the SMS scheme would empower the poorest of the poor residing in the remote villages of the State.
He said the State Government is committed to ensure hundred per cent allotment to the BPL and Antyavodaya card holders whereas such is not the case with the APL card holders. The food grains quota for APL card holders varies and it is often that they do not avail their full quota of edibles delivered by the fair price shops.