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Andhra Pradesh (India) would be introducing smart cards for the poor by March, 2008

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Smart cards for the poor would be becoming a reality in Andhra Pradesh (India) with the state government proposing to launch such cards for people below poverty line (BPL) in 17 districts by March, 2008. The Anchra Pradesh state government has invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from companies and NGOs by January 18, 2008 for operationalising the smart card schemes. The identified companies and NGOs, according to the state government, would have to operate the smart card scheme, disburse benefits at remote locations and ensure proper functioning of the system.

The biometric smart cards would be used by over a crore people in Andhra Pradesh to obtain foodgrain and secure other benefits of the government-run schemes. The smart cards would also be used for obtaining benefits of the old age security pension scheme under which the union government gives INR 200/- per month to every person below poverty line and a matching sum is provided by the state government. The introduction of smart card is a part of the National Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) of the Centre and Social Security Pensions Scheme of the Andhra government. These cards are expected to prevent leakages in the social sector schemes and ensure that the benefits provided by the state government reach the beneficiaries. The 'smart card' project would be implemented in the 17 districts of Andhra Pradesh covering 1.10 crore beneficiaries in a multi- zone and phased manner.

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