Food Procurement and Distribution – PDS & NFSA, Shanta Kumar Committee, FCI restructuring, Buffer stock, etc.

One Nation One Ration Card (ONORC)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ONORC

Mains level : Benefits of ONORC for Migrants

The Supreme Court directed all states and UTs to implement the One Nation, One Ration Card (ONORC) system, which allows for inter-and intra-state portability, by July 31.

ONORC Scheme

  • The ONORC scheme is aimed at enabling migrant workers and their family members to buy subsidized ration from any fair price shop anywhere in the country under the National Food Security Act, 2013.
  • For instance, a migrant worker from will be able to access PDS benefits elsewhere in India, where he or she may have gone in search of work.
  • While the person can buy food grains as per his or her entitlement under the NFSA at the place where he or she is based, members of his or her family can still go to their ration dealer back home.
  • To promote this reform in the archaic Public Distribution System (PDS), the government has provided incentives to states.

How does ONORC work?

  • ONORC is based on technology that involves details of beneficiaries’ ration card, Aadhaar number, and electronic Points of Sale (ePoS).
  • The system identifies a beneficiary through biometric authentication on ePoS devices at fair price shops.
  • The system runs with the support of two portals —Integrated Management of Public Distribution System (IM-PDS) (impds.nic.in) and Annavitran (annavitran.nic.in), which host all the relevant data.
  • When a ration card holder goes to a fair price shop, he or she identifies himself or herself through biometric authentication on ePoS, which is matched real time with details on the Annavitaran portal.
  • Once the ration card details are verified, the dealer hands out the beneficiary’s entitlements.
  • While the Annavitaran portal maintains a record of intra-state transactions — inter-district and intra-district — the IM-PDS portal records the inter-state transactions.

How many people will it benefit?

  • Under the National Food Security Act, 2013, about 81 crore people are entitled to buy subsidised foodgrains — rice at Rs 3/kg, wheat at Rs 2/kg, and coarse grains at Re 1/kg – from designated fair price shops.
  • As on 28 June 2021, there are about 5.46 lakh fair price shops and 23.63 crore ration cardholders across the country.
  • Each NFSA ration cardholder is assigned to a fair price shop near the place where his ration card is registered.

What factors led to the launch of ONORC?

  • Earlier, NFSA beneficiaries were not able to access their PDS benefits outside the jurisdiction of the specific fair price shop to which they have been assigned.
  • The government envisioned the ONORC to give them access to benefits from any fair price shop.
  • The idea was to reform the PDS, which has been historically marred by inefficiency and leakages.
  • ONORC was initially launched as an inter-state pilot.
  • When the Covid-19 pandemic forced thousands of migrant workers to return to their villages last year, a need was felt to expedite the rollout.

What has been the coverage so far?

  • Till date, 32 states and Union Territories have joined the ONORC, covering about 69 crore NFSA beneficiaries.
  • About 1.35 crore portability transactions every month are being recorded under ONORC on an average.
  • While inter-state ration card portability is available in 32 states, the number of such transactions is much lower than that of intra-district and inter-district transactions.

States not joining

  • Four states are yet to join the scheme — Assam, Chhattisgarh, Delhi and West Bengal. There are various reasons.
  • For instance, Delhi is yet to start the use of ePoS in fair price shops, which is a prerequisite for the implementation of ONORC.
  • In the case of West Bengal, the state government has demanded that the non-NFSA ration cardholders — ration cards issued by the state government — should also be covered under the ONORC.
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