BJP-led Raghubar Das government had stated that the cashless PDS system would eradicate corruption from the state. Das suggested that PoS machines would be used to authenticate and verify Aadhaar details to ensure smooth transfer of ration. Not only are the residents not getting a regular supply of ration, but now details of corruption have also emerged.
In the latest details to have come out, the state instead of purchasing the PoS machines for a maximum of ₹5,000 each has instead decided to rent each PoS machine from a private company at the cost of ₹1474.5 per month for five years. This would mean ₹88,470 per machine for five years. Now, the state has 25,735 PDS shops, of which 25,115 are the functional ones. Each PDS unit has one PoS machine so that translates into ₹2,22,19,24,050 (₹222 crore) for the 25,115 machines.
These details were revealed after a Jharkhand-based activist Ganesh got a reply to his queries under the RTI law. Initially the Public Distribution and food department refused to give details, but after he appealed twice, he got a response to his RTI queries. The ministry is handled by BJP minister Saryu Roy, who is considered the party’s Chanakya in the state. He was in the forefront of those responsible for exposing the animal husbandry scam of Lalu Prasad and was known to have blown the whistle on former CM Madhu Koda.
What would have cost the Jharkhand government only ₹12.5 crore, has now amounted to loss of ₹209.6 crore to the public exchequer. If the government had decided to buy the PoS machines, it would have cost the government less than the rental of four months of all of these machines.
The government has given the tender to two companies –Mahesh Kumar Jain-led Integra Micro System Pvt Ltd based in Bengaluru and A Krishna Prasad-led Linkwell Telesystems Pvt Ltd based in Hyderabad. The former has got the contract in the Santhal Pargana areas, which include Godda, Deoghar, Dumka, Jamtara, Sahibganj and Pakur districts. The latter company has got it in all the other remaining eight districts.
This project has been included under the BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer) model. Though it is not immediately clear what the private has to build, operate and transfer. Unlike roads and ports which requires building a road and maintaining it, all this required was the installation of a PoS machine at the PDS shop.