Karnataka's first automatic rice dispensing machine, also called, 'rice ATM' will come up in one of the slums in Bengaluru, state Minister for Food and Civil Supplies K Gopalaiah said.
The minister said that Rice ATMs will be beneficial for Below Poverty Line (BPL) cardholders, who do not find time to go to the Public Distribution System (PDS) centres during working hours, reported The Indian Express.
"We will identify a slum with a large number of people and install it. It will be very useful for the poor people since it will remain open 24X7 with rice availability, and people can make use of it accordingly and will potentially do away with the need to wait in long queues in front of ration shops," Gopalaiah said.
The machines are expected to check malpractices in the Public Distribution System and can dispense two commodities at a speed of 25 per 1.3 minutes. Each of these dispensers has a built-in storage capacity of 200-500 kg. The person who needs rice should insert a coin in the machine, and the rice will be dispensed.
The Karnataka government has been providing 5 kg of rice per month under Anna Bhagya scheme to every member of a BPL household since 2013 and Above Poverty Level (APL) family members get rice for Rs 15 per kg.
Announced in September, the rice ATM would be set up in the slum area in the next few months. The initiative is part of the Centre's pilot project 'Annapurti', that is being implemented in close partnership with the United Nation's World Food Programme (WFP).
WFP has been working closely with the government in carrying out reforms in the Public Distribution System.
Gopalaiah said that the government had appointed an officer to look after this programme and follow up with the Centre and WFP to set up the Rice ATM. " In another few months, the ATM will be ready, and the first rice-dispensing machine will be set up in one of the slum areas in Bengaluru," he said.
These automatic grain dispensing machines are going to be set up at five locations across five states - Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.
To make rice ATM's convenient for public usage, the government is also considering a smart card or a biometric system similar to bank ATMs.