ARD automation is the most important and challenging link in the entire TPDS value chain reforms because of its direct interface with beneficiaries and its dependence on ARD dealers. The goal of ARD automation is to make operations at the ARD more transparent and more difficult to misreport by closing the information loop on the movement of food grains through the TPDS supply chain. This has a profound impact on the performance of the entire system and ARD automation is essential to realize the benefits of better beneficiary identification and supply chain automation (e.g. through the e-verification of delivery of food grains to the ARD and in flagging when ARD stocks are low) which have already been funded under Component 1 of the GoI’s TPDS Computerization efforts.
ARD automation has to be designed to ensure that only rightful beneficiaries can access food grains from the TPDS thereby safeguarding their rights under the National Food Security Act. The system must also increase convenience for the beneficiary as well as the Fair Price Shop dealer. ARD automation also has to be compatible with the requirements of any potential future changes in the TPDS (e.g. cash transfers to TPDS beneficiaries that are conditional on them buying TPDS food grains). Finally, it must help the government monitor the operations of the TPDS and identify potential issues quickly and effectively, thereby improving the operations of the entire TPDS.
Based on its experience with ARD automation in Rayagada, Odisha and its assessment of ARD automation in Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka and Chandigarh, the World Food Programme has developed a best practice solution that compares various options for ARD automation and recommends use of a PoS device with an internet enabled biometric authentication (Aadhaar based) and an electronic weighing machine. It is advised that as an additional feature, the PoS be voice enabled in the local language to improve convenience of beneficiaries with poor literacy levels. Based on the experience of the pre-pilot and lab testing, the Government of Kerala has prepared a detailed solution requirement document.
The document has been shared with the participating e-pos vendors (Posiflex, VisionTek, EssaeTaeroka, BeWo, Nellitto, and Synteizen), who have devices and solutions with the required STQC certification from UIDAI. The purpose of this document is to outline the test strategy to be adopted for the validation of the E-POS from the lab testing to pilot testing. This document describes the delivery of TPDS commodities to beneficiaries is the most important end objective of the TPDS computerization. It has to be ensured that prescribed quantities of TPDS commodities are issued to the eligible beneficiaries and data regarding
the commodities issued, quantity issued, authentication of beneficiary, etc, are captured during the the test environment, test phases, areas of testing and test documentation. Based on this requirement document, the vendors are expected to develop/ enhance their solution and submit it for the deployment during the pilot exercise. NIC has also developed an FPS module for the TPDS as a part of their Common Application Software (CAS), both on the Android and Windows platforms. NIC, has also agreed to customize CAS, including FPS module, and support it’s’ deployment in the pilot project.
The lab test of different e-PoS machines which are to be tested in the Model Pilot is going on in Delhi by WFP and in the Control Room at the Civil Supplies Commissionerate by Department staff/PIU/WFP team.