Who is poor? Fresh yardstick coming

There have been Centre-states tensions over identification process


The ministry of rural development has brought out a set of new guidelines to identify BPL families. According to the proposed norms, if a family has any of the following determinants — income, house, farmland owning and vehicle — it will be excluded from the BPL list. If a family has land more than the average landholding size or has a monthly income of over Rs 5,000, lives in a pucca house, owns a two-wheeler, has a mechanised farm implement like a tractor, harvester, owns tubewells or pays income tax, it will not get the BPL tag.

The new criteria, for the first time in the country, also give marks for the SC/STs, the most Backward Castes, Other Backward Classes (OBCs) and Muslims. If a household has members with tuberculosis, leprosy, disability, mental illness or AIDS, it will also be awarded points to get a BPL tag.

As identifying a BPL family has always been a bone of contention between the Centre and the states, the rural development ministry now seeks to streamline it with a fresh set of norms, sources in the ministry told Deccan Herald.

Once the new proposal, which is still under the consideration of the Planning Commission, is approved, it could raise the number of BPL families, sources admitted.
At present, the criteria for identifying a BPL family — which were prepared in 2002 — are based (on scores 0 to 4) on 13 socio-economic parameters. The criteria include cultivable land, house, sanitation, ownership of consumer durables, literacy, status of children, type of indebtedness and migration in search of work. However, these had drawn strong criticism from the states as they dubbed them anti-poor.

Now, with the Centre preparing to roll out a cheap food grain distribution scheme, which entails every BPL family to get 25 kg of rice/wheat at Rs 3 per kg, the issue of BPL families has cropped up again. The Centre is likely to discuss the issue at the National Development Council meeting to be chaired by the PM in a couple of months.

Criteria for BPL tag

* If a family has any of the following determinants — income, house, farmland owning and vehicle — it will be excluded from the BPL list

* If a family has land more than the average landholding size or has a monthly income of over     Rs 5,000, lives in a pucca house, owns a two-wheeler, has a mechanised farm implement it will not get the BPL tag

* The new criteria gives points to SC/STs, the most Backward Castes, OBCs and Muslims

* If a household has members with tuberculosis, leprosy, disability, mental illness or AIDS, it will also be awarded points to get a BPL tag

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