All 16,560 Fair Price shops being digitalized

  • Sweeping reforms in Civil Supplies Dep

Hyderabad: As directed by the Union government and also at the behest of the Telangana Government, the Civil Supplies Department has opened its doors for sweeping reforms with the implementation of Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) Unit system throughout the State. Now EPOS machines are provided with advanced features and at a low price.

A committee under the guidance of CGG with CV Anand, Civil Supplies Commissioner, as Chairman, has been formed to finalize the tenders. The Secretaries of Finance and IT departments, MD of APTS, Director of NIC, Hyderabad CRO were included as members in it. Consequently, the committee started the tender process in August 2016 and completed its task within five months. Sandip Kumar Sultania, Finance Secretary, V Prem Chand, APTC Managing Director and other members of the committee, also participated in the last meeting held on Saturday night and finalized the process.

Oasys Cybernetics Pvt Ltd., has won the tender by quoting the lowest rental of Rs 1,499 per month per unit. The other two companies quoted Rs 1,548 and Rs 1,775 respectively. The committee saved Rs 3 crores per year to the exchequer by finalizing the tender purely on transparent methodology.

Civil Supplies Commissioner Anand explained about the changes made in the system. Now EPOS units are already in vogue in the fair price shops (FPSs) of Greater Hyderabad for the implementation of Public Distribution System. These machines recognize the finger prints of the beneficiaries. Now Iris scanner, electronic weighing machine, swiping Aadhaar-enabled system (AEPAS), audio/voice features are the added facilities, explained Anand. As per the initiative of the Centtral Government to conduct banking operations also through FPSs, micro ATMs would be positioned suitably and the FPS dealer would hereafter work as business correspondent for banking operations in addition to his existing PDS responsibilities, he said.

AEPS system: To avail of this system, every card holder should have a bank account. While entering Aadhaar number into the records after the distribution of essential commodities, the dealer also enters the bank account number of the beneficiary. This enables the dealer to get payment of the bill directly from the account of the card holder for the items purchased by the beneficiary. After the implementation of this system, the Department of Civil Supplies is expected to take a lead in cashless transactions in the State.

EPOS units would be installed in all the 16,560 FPSs in the entire State. The department would bear the total burden of Rs 1,499 per unit per month. Already in twin cities, the department has been paying a rental of Rs 1650 per unit which is operating on biometric (finger print) technology. As the bidding process is conducted now at national level, the department has saved Rs 151 on each machine.

Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, Ram Vilas Paswan, held a meeting in New Delhi on January 19 with all the Commissioners of State-level Civil Supplies Departments and directed them to implement the cashless transactions through their network by the end of next March. While clarifying the firm determination of the Centre on cashless transactions, the minister had clarified to all the food secretaries that in case of failure, Central subsidy would be reduced from April 15. He also informed the meeting that Rs 17 should be paid to the dealer of the FPS for every quintal, if he procured the EPOS unit on his own. Paswan said he Union Government would pay half of that amount and the rest should be borne by the State governments. As the Telanagana Government was arranging the machines on rental basis, the Central subsidy of Rs 8.50 would directly be credited to the State Treasury, Anand said.

In the biometric process, often problems are cropping up whenever the finger prints are hazy. So to get over it, Iris is introduced and similarly voice over system (VOS) would be of much help to the rural folk and particularly so to the illiterate, he explained. On the whole, with the introduction of EPOS in all the 16,560 FPSs, every year approximately 15% to 20% would be saved to the exchequer, which means an amount of Rs.750-800 crores.

To curb irregularities in FPSs, EPOS machines have already been introduced in 1545 FPSs spread in the nine circles of Hyderabad and three circles of Ranga Reddy District from last March onwards. These are biometric machines that function on the basis of Aadhaar number. So far, Rs 190 crores have been saved after the introduction of this system, Anand added. EPOS helps in removing the irregularities in PDS, in ensuring that the benefits reach the card holder in full, in monitoring the accurate stock position in Fair Price shops at any given time etc, he said. –NSS

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