Bengaluru: Following in the footsteps of Vietnam and Indonesia, Karnataka has decided to install rice ATMs for ration card holders. The state government hopes the measure will enable those benefiting from the Public Distribution System (PDS) and Below Poverty Line (BPL) card holders to get easier access to rice instead of having to stand in long queues at ration shops.
Karnataka already runs water ATMs for the PDS and BPL card holders, with nearly 800 such dispensing centres spread across the state. A similar system will be followed for the rice ATMs.
Food and Civil Supplies Minister K. Gopalaiah told ThePrint over the phone that the government is in the process of checking the feasibility of the project. “The dispensers have different sizes and capacity — from 100 kg to 500 kg. After installing these rice ATMs at a couple of centres, we will expand and install them across the state,” he said.
The minister said the government is ironing out some of the problems it may encounter.
“Quality control is very important. We also need to ascertain how we will refill the grains in these ATMs if they are kept open 24×7,” the minister said. “This is being done in the interest of people, and we hope to see it implemented soon.”
System similar to water ATMs
The rice ATMs are to be set up on the lines of the water dispenser machines in the state.
PDS card holders will be handed token coins, which they can encash as rice at the ATMs.
Under its Anna Bhagya (free rice) scheme, the Karnataka government offers a BPL card holder 5 kg of free rice per person every month. Food and civil supplies officials say close to 5 crore individuals are covered under the scheme.
An Above Poverty Line (APL) family, under the scheme, can buy rice at Rs 15 per kg but they are not eligible for the rice ATM scheme as of now.
The government is also planning to allow access to these machines through a smart card, which is already in use for the water ATMs, or a biometric system, instead of coins.