Sugar, Wheat, Even Soap, on a SmartCard

DQI Bureau
New Update

It is a dingy little shop piled with wheat and rice grains,

granulated sugar and grimy cans of oil —surely the last place with which you

would associate an IT initiative of any kind. Even more difficult to imagine, is

the association between the people that form the queue before the ration shop

and the concept of automation.


But for the first time in the country, ‘smart’ ration

cards will be used for the distribution of supplies through the state public

distribution system (PDS) in Kerala.

How the

Smart Ration Card Works...

  • The customer swipes his

    card on the electronic machine

  • Items

    and the quantity he is eligible for are displayed

  • The customer punches in

    his requirements

  • Billing is instant, the

    amount is collected by the shopkeeper

  • Goods are delivered to

    the customer

Informs Kerala civil supplies department director

Sivasankaran, "The pilot project is being launched in four ration shops in

Thiruvananthapuram city to cater to 2500 card holders. The project is being

implemented by Delhi-based IT firm ‘SmartChip’. The project will

subsequently cover the entire state." As part of the Rs 5-lakh project, the

software, the implementing company would supply terminals in ration shops and

smart card readers.


As a result of the new system, the shop owner is spared the

drudgery of preparing bills and manually entering the list of items in the

ledger. The customer can walk into a shop and punch his card on the electronic

machine. The display unit will show the list of items and the corresponding

quantity he is eligible for. The customer himself can select the items and the

quantities he requires, by punching the entry on the machine. The bill will be

prepared instantly by the machine, the amount collected by the shopkeeper and

the goods disbursed.

The card will contain information about the head of the

family - his age and profession and details of his family members. In the

future, a photograph of the head of the family will also be incorporated in the

ration card.

In the present system, PDS goods that are not sold often get

diverted to the black market. The automation will help rationing officers to

check stock and sale of goods on a daily basis. With the networking of the PDS

shops and rationing offices, the government can plan to set up a centralized

system for monitoring and evaluation. Under the pilot project, each card will

cost Rs 50, but if the entire card holder database of 65 lakh is covered under

the project, the cost would come down to Rs 11 per card. Presently, printed

ration cards are sold at the rate of Rs 15 per card. Thus, the smart card will

prove to be cost effective for the user as well.