DIBRUGARH, Sept 15 - The Sadou Asom Gramin Shramik Sanstha, a constituent unit of All India Agriculture and Rural Labour Association, has opposed the Centre’s move to link Aadhaar to the Public Distribution System (PDS), alleging that the step would only complicate the distribution system and deprive poor people of their entitlements.
The Leftist body, which organised a demonstration in front of the office of the Dibrugarh Deputy Commissioner here today, said that Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in the PDS, as desired by the Narendra Modi-led NDA Government, is not error-free and has a lot of loopholes. This ‘pro-corporate system’ is being enforced only to dismantle the present PDS, the leaders of the organisation alleged.
Aadhaar-based biometric authentication in the PDS involves matching of fingerprints in the Aadhaar database over the Internet through point-of-sale machines. “This system is totally illogical and inappropriate for the rural people, who have no access to power, proper roads, Internet, phone connectivity, etc., which are essential for technology-backed biometric authentication,” said Subhrajyoti Vardhan, vice president of All India Agriculture and Rural Labour Association.
The organisation added that identification of customers through fingerprints would be difficult for workers engaged in hazardous jobs like plantation fields, brick kilns, masonry, factories, workshops, etc., “as their fingerprints would keep on changing.” Moreover, under the new system, it will be mandatory for old, sick and differently abled persons to arrive at the PDS venues for identification. The Centre will deprive these segments of poor people under the Aadhaar linkage system of the PDS, the leaders maintained.
Vardhan said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, being ‘pro-corporate,’ was seeking to gradually dismantle the present PDS so that the corporate sector could gain an upper hand in the foodgrains market. “Prices of foodgrains are more or less stable in the open market due to the PDS. If the PDS is done away with, the prices of foodgrains will skyrocket and poor people will not be able to afford anything. Besides, common people who are getting 25-30 kg of rice under the PDS at Rs 3 to Rs 4, will not be able to buy it from the open market with the subsidy proposed to be offered to customers in their bank accounts,” he said.
The organisation has demanded that the beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act must not be linked to Aadhaar cards, and that all beneficiaries must be provided foodgrains and not cash subsidies.