With 8 states joining ration card portability, centre plans nationwide launch by June 2020

Ration card holders in Kerala and Karnataka, as well as in Rajasthan and Haryana, will also be now able to buy subsidised food from ration shops in the neighbouring state from next month, food minister Ram Vilas Paswan said on Tuesday.

Effective 1 October, these two new clusters will join the existing state pairs of Andhra Pradesh and Telengana, as well as Maharashtra and Gujarat as pioneers in inter-state portability of ration cards, he told a conference of food ministers and secretaries from across the country. 
Paswan was laying out the roadmap for achieving `One Nation One Ration Card’ system of nationwide portability, which the centre hopes to implement by June 2020.
By 1 January 2020, the centre hopes the eight states in these initial experimental clusters, along with states like Jharkhand, Punjab and Tripura, to be clubbed into a single grid. This means that migrants from these 11 states can access their rations guaranteed under the National Food Security Act in any of the other state within the grid.
These 11 states have already achieved the first step in implementing intra-state portability, where NFSA beneficiaries can use their ration cards in any ration shop within the state. By March 2020, intra-state portability will be implemented in another 13 states and union territories, including Tamil Nadu, Goa, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Sikkim, Jammu and Kashmir, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Ration shops in these states have electronic point of sale machines, although 10 states are lagging behind in implementation, Paswan said. “There is only 70 per cent coverage of ePOS in West Bengal, 33 per cent in Uttarakhand and 15 per cent in Bihar. In the North East, in Meghalaya, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Assam, as also in Delhi, there is no coverage at all. This is where we must focus,” he said.
Apart from ePOS coverage, Aadhaar authentication and online supply depot management are also critical for the implementation of the system. 
Food secretary Ravikant pointed out that Aadhaar authentication must be implemented widely in order for states to join the scheme. 
He also said that measures were being taken to prevent misuse of the portability system. “We will allow partial lifting of rations, where a maximum of 50% of the ration can be picked up at one time,” he said. This would help prevent one member of a household lifting the entire ration at one location, depriving other members of the family who use the same ration card in a different location.