State makes EPIC number mandatory for ration cards

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Bangalore: In a move to weed out bogus ration cards and fake beneficiaries, the Food and Civil Supplies Department has made it mandatory for all ration cards holders in the State to register their Elector’s Photo Identity Card (EPIC) number and also that of the adult members of their families with the department.

The department has also sought the Aadhaar card number (Unique Identity number – UID) of all beneficiaries, but has made furnishing of the same voluntary, following Supreme Court directions that Aadhaar card cannot be made mandatory for accessing public services and subsidies.

Addressing a press conference in Bangalore, Minister of State for Food and Civil Supplies Dinesh Gundu Rao said, initially, 40 lakh ration card holders who got their cards before 2010 and have not renewed the same should furnish the EPIC and UID numbers before May 30 this year, failing which their cards would be suspended.

As many as 20 lakh new applicants, who are yet to receive their cards, will also have to furnish their EPIC and UID numbers.
Cards will be distributed to them only after they furnish the numbers. Beneficiaries who have got their cards after 2010 will also have to provide EPIC and UID details, but no deadline has been set for them as of now.

While furnishing UID is not mandatory, applications/cards of beneficiaries who provide the same would be given priority and processed faster, Rao said.
Applicants who provide UID number will not be asked to provide their biometric details. Henceforth, no introducer will be required while applying for a new ration card.

The EPIC and UID numbers need to be furnished via mobile phone (see box).

Food and Civil Supplies Department Commissioner Harsh Gupta said these numbers, once collected, would be electronically validated by comparing with the database of the Election Commission of India and the Unique Identification Authority of India.

The mobile phone, from which the information was sent, would be registered for the particular ration card. Persons sending wrong information willfully would be liable for criminal prosecution.

Ration card holders who do not send the required information would be placed under suspect category and would be taken up for verification through house visits, Gupta said.

The department has also linked all fair price shops to the jurisdictional polling station.
Gupta said biometric weighing machines would be installed in 5,500 fair price shops in Chikmagalur, Tumkur, Dharwad, Mysore, Belgaum and Gulbarga districts in the next three months.

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