Aadhaar To The Rescue As 2.2 Lakh Tonnes Of Wheat And Sugar Robbed From PDS Stock In Uttar Pradesh

An Aadhaar registration camp. (Priyanka Parashar/Mint via Getty Images) 

Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been grappling with a spate of Public Distribution System (PDS) thefts in recent days with an estimated 2.2 lakh tonnes of wheat and sugar having been pilfered in the month of July alone. This pilferage is also unique because it comes on the heels of an Aadhaar enabled ration disbursal system being adopted in the state whereby all beneficiaries have been allotted unique identification numbers.

The scam came to light after authorities noted a particular individual was consistently drawing more than the prescribed quota of ration allowed per person. The per person ration withdrawn amounted to an astounding 1,183 kg against a 25 kg of wheat and 5 kg of sugar that a family of five is allowed to procure in a month.

It has emerged that the scamsters had resorted to switching the unique identification numbers of beneficiaries thereby allowing their people to draw upon the ration allotted to others.

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This particular experience in UP calls for a more proactive approach by the government in seeding mobile phone numbers and bank accounts with the Aadhaar numbers. The reason for this is simple as mandatory Aadhaar authentication can aid authorities in detecting such pilferage and also identify fake accounts. Every time an eKYC is done then the concerned banks and mobile phone companies get personal details of the individual such as his name, address, age and photograph.

The introduction of facial recognition features would further aid in the plugging of leaks through fraudulent transactions.

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