/spanspan class="byline byline-photo" img src="/media/images/48651000/jpg/_48651118_rajini112.jpg" alt="Rajini Vaidyanathan"span class="byline-name"By Rajini Vaidyanathan/span/spandiv style="float:right;width:305px;display:inline;font-size:13px;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;line-height:16px;" div id="emp-13984035-102249" class="emp"div class="warning" img width="326" title="BBC iPlayer holding image, view original article for media" src="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/53816000/jpg/_53816107_img_4123.jpg" alt="Women queue up to buy subsidised food" /div/divp class="caption"WATCH: Critics of the smart card scheme say queues have increased since the card's introduction/p/divp class="introduction"Women are waiting in line in one of Chandigarh's slum areas, holding empty shopping bags ready to be filled with rice, wheat and sugar./p pAs each customer reaches the counter, they hand the shopkeeper a plastic card with their photograph on, then they're asked for something else - their fingerprints./p pIn order to buy any of the supplies from this government-run ration store, they need to place their fingers on a small credit-card-style machine./p pOnly once they get a match can their purchase go ahead./p div style="float:right;width:305px;display:inline;font-size:13px;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;line-height:16px;" img src="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/53816000/jpg/_53816153_img_4135.jpg" width="304" height="228" alt="Women buying staples from the government shop using their smart cards"span style="width:304px;"Women buying staples from the government shop using their smart cards/span /div pThe shoppers here in Chandigarh are part of a project that uses biometric smart cards to deliver food to the city's poorest.nbsp;/p pIn India, those living below the poverty line (BPL) or on lower incomes, are allowed to buy basic food staples such as rice, sugar and wheat at highly subsidised rates, at government-run Fair Price shops.nbsp;/p pIn most places, families are given paper "ration books" that record how much food has been purchased and by whom.nbsp;/p pBut this scheme in Chandigarh is doing away with the old system./p pThe credit card-sized biometric smart cards contain a 64kb microchip that stores the fingerprints, photograph and other personal details of the head of the family and at least two other members.nbsp;/p pIt can also store a record of the purchases made by every family - how much they have bought and at what price.nbsp;/p pThose behind the scheme believe the technology will do away with fraud, and ensure food reaches the genuine recipients.nbsp; Under the old paper systemnbsp;where little proof was needed to claim food,nbsp; people could easily use someone else's card, say officials.nbsp;/p div class="story-feature wide "div style="float:right;width:305px;display:inline;font-size:13px;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;line-height:16px;" img src="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/49334000/gif/_49334930_tob304.gif" width="304" height="80" alt="Technology of Business" /diva href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11428889"Special Report: The Technology of Business/a a href="/news/business-13962653"Mobile threat to the business world/a a href="/news/business-13928215"Saudi women drive social media campaign/a a href="/news/business-13878064"Parlez-vous business?/a a href="/news/business-13749897"What if the world was just a game?/a a href="/news/business-13797150"Safety in (phone) numbers/a a href="/news/business-13726776"IBM: From typewriters to the cloud/a/div p id="story_continues_1""It means only the person who is holding the smart card will get the food - no-one else can claim the food as theirs" says Bachan Singh, of Chandigarh's food and supplies department, which is administering the scheme.nbsp;/p p"Everyone will get the proper quantity of food, at the proper price," he says./p p"I like the smart cards a lot," says Usha, a mother of three young children who is waiting to buy food. "I lost my card recently and was able to get another one easily."/p pUsha works as a domestic maid and earns about 1,500 rupees a month ($33; pound;21). By that definition hers is a BPL family, and is entitled to up to 35kg of subsidised grains per month.nbsp;/p pBut Kunti Devi disagrees with Usha's assessment of the scheme. A widow, she earns 2,000 rupees ($44; pound;28) a monthnbsp;as a cleaner and has reported problems with the new scheme.nbsp;/p p"The machine doesn't always read my fingerprints properly, sometimes they tell me to go away and come back later," she says./p p"I also have to wait a long time in the queue, before it was much quicker."/p div style="float:right;width:305px;display:inline;font-size:13px;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;line-height:16px;" img src="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/53816000/jpg/_53816157_img_4211.jpg" width="304" height="171" alt="Fingerprint scanning"span style="width:304px;"Fingerprints are scanned and the data recorded in the chip on the smart card/span /div pOne of the biggest challenges officials face is getting people to trust the new technology. Here in this slum area there are no computers or televisions - the idea of doing things electronically is alien to many.nbsp;/p pTeething problems are evident in the scheme. During the time we visited, the machine broke down and led to an even longer queue of people waiting in the searing heat for their food. But government officials did turn up promptly to investigate.nbsp;/p pVinay Verma, who deals with the technical aspects of the machines, says some of the problems stem from the fact the vendors themselves are unfamiliar with the machines.nbsp;/p pHe says failure is often down to human error, such as the cable not being pushed in properly, or the cards not properly inserted.nbsp;/p pThe city has bold plans to register 200,000 families onto this scheme by September, so far only 5,000 have signed up to the cards./p div style="float:right;width:305px;display:inline;font-size:13px;font-weight:400;font-style:normal;line-height:16px;" img src="http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/53816000/jpg/_53816155_img_4143.jpg" width="304" height="171" alt="Machine"span style="width:304px;"The machine checks the customers fingerprints against the biometric data on the card/span /div p"The government wants people to give their biometric data and fingerprints, and many people have a fear that this will be used in another way, so they are not coming up in numbers to give their data," says Surendra M Bhanot, from the Consumers Association of Chandigarh./p pMr Bhanot says many of the people the scheme is aimed at are illiterate and fear this biometric information could end up in the hands of the police.nbsp;/p pAn awareness drive is one way he believes this hurdle can be overcome.nbsp;/p pUsing this kind of technology to deliver rations is costing the Chandigarh authorities 44 crores and 66 lakhs rupees ($10m; pound;6.2m). None of this cost is picked up by the cardholder themselves.nbsp;/p pThe deployment of biometric smart cards to deliver rations is one way the government could meet its bold plans to ensure food rations reach the country's poorest. In its draft food-security bill it guarantees subsidised food grains to at least 90% of rural households and 50% of urban families.nbsp;/p pNew technology is one way it could deliver this - if the Chandigarh smart-card scheme is seen to be a success, it could be replicated across India.nbsp;/ppThis article is from the a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk" title="Link to BBC News"BBC News website/a. © British Broadcasting Corporation, The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites./p pa href="http://feedads.g.doubleclick.net/~a/SKouHcxozrjuM3pwdveAvAWk-M8/0/da"img src="http://feedads.g.doubleclick.net/~a/SKouHcxozrjuM3pwdveAvAWk-M8/0/di" border="0" ismap="true"/img/abr/ a href="http://feedads.g.doubleclick.net/~a/SKouHcxozrjuM3pwdveAvAWk-M8/1/da"img src="http://feedads.g.doubleclick.net/~a/SKouHcxozrjuM3pwdveAvAWk-M8/1/di" border="0" ismap="true"/img/a/pimg src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/BbcNewsTechnologyFullFeed/~4/5kaFf899i7c" height="1" width="1"/