The Chhattisgarh government has decided to set up model fair-price shops (FPS) in each district and encourage owners to act as banking correspondents for providing financial services.
The state has around 12,300 fair-price shops across 33 districts.
The state government is, however, encouraging FPS owners to provide a host of services besides acting as a banking correspondent.
“The model government fair-price shops will be started in all the districts of Chhattisgarh in a phased manner,” state’s food secretary Topeshwar Verma said.
Department officials have been asked to start preparations for this.
The shop will be identified in a district after consultation with the local district administration, he added.
Apart from sale of other consumer goods along with ration material, the facility of banking correspondent will also be provided in the model fair-price shops, Verma said.
FPS licence holders will find additional sources of income, he added.
Officials of the India Post Payments Bank, telecom department, oil companies and Civil Supplies Corporation have given a detailed presentation to the state officials for providing better facilities to consumers through the FPS.
Based on the suggestions, new services will be implemented in the FPS.
The department has also initiated the process of linking Aadhaar of ration card holders.
A target has been set to complete the work by the end of this month.
The officials said the state government intended to transform FPS by launching a pilot project of model shops and taking initiatives to provide a common services centre (CSC) through the ration shops.
The officials are also exploring the possibilities of selling small LPG cylinders through the shops and had detailed discussions with oil companies.
Besides banking correspondent services through tie-ups with banks, the shops will be allowed to sell other commodities and general store items.
The initiative will make Chhattisgarh FPS further smart as the state has earlier launched an innovative scheme in 2011 that aimed to revamp the public distribution system.
In the process, it planned to weed out pilferages to the black market and corruption.
The scheme is called CORE (Centralised Online Real-time Electronic) PDS.
It is based on the latest IT tools that include smart cards, hand-held point-of-sale devices at ration shops and servers that store the data and monitor all transactions.