Plan panel to rework BPL estimates

Plan panel to rework BPL estimates

The Planning Commission will soon set up a technical committee of experts to reassess the Below Poverty Line estimation which had drawn flack from various quarters. 

Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a programme to launch student fellowship under the Prime Minister’s Rural Development Fellowship Programme here on Saturday, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the committee would be announced shortly.  He added that poverty would be measured against the new benchmark set by the proposed committee from the 12th Five Year Plan onwards. 

The Deputy Chairman was in Hyderabad along with Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to launch the special fellowship programme that would see 156 students from the country’s premier institutions work to accelerate developmental programmes in the Maoists-hit districts.  Ahluwalia said there was a need to have a multi-dimensional approach to measuring poverty.  “The prime minister himself said that this poverty line is only linked to consumption but poverty may not just have to do with consumption but also with running water connection, pucca or kutcha house and you could have two or three other dimensions of poverty,” he said.

He clarified that poverty line at Rs 28.65 daily consumption would not be linked to the benefits under various social sector schemes of the government. “The poverty line of Tendulkar committee is no longer linked to benefits and it is only serving the purpose to measure what is happening and to judge effectiveness of the policy,” he said.

According to the commission, poverty ratio, based on the Tendulkar committee formula, has declined to 29.8 per cent in 2009-10, from 37.2 per cent in 2004-05.

However, the commission has come under criticism for arriving at this figure on the basis of per capita daily consumption of Rs 28.65 in cities and Rs 22.42 in rural areas.

Claiming that the poverty ratio has come down by whatever method of calculation adopted, Ahluwalia remarked that the criticism was due to the “unwillingness to accept the fact that the growth we have seen is more inclusive than earlier”.

The Planning Commission deputy chairman said that before UPA (United Progressive Alliance) came to power in 2004, the decline in poverty ratio per year was 0.74 percent but after 2004, poverty reduction ratio has improved to 1.5 percent. 

“When the data of 2011-12 comes in, this 1.5 percent will become bigger,” he said. He, however, clarified that the government is not claiming that poverty has been eliminated.The Tendulkar Committee was set up in 2005 as part of the Planning Commission and was responsible for establishing the BPL margin. 

The fellowships, conferred on students from IIT and IIMs, would enable students would work for  two years  under the guidance of the collectors of Maoist-infested districts in the country . 

The 156 students were selected  from a whopping 8,560 applications in the introductory year for the fellowship scheme that will provide a monthly remuneration of Rs 65,000. 

The new  recruits  will act  as  sherpas ( eyes and ears ) of the collectors  " said the minister adding that  this is also the first large scale entry of professionals  into a Government programme. 

The fellows will undergo training for two months before being posted in districts covered under the Integrated Action Plan - a joint project of the Planning Commission and the Home Ministry that was introduced in 2009 to intensify development work in the 78 worst-affected Maoist districts such as Dantewada, Bastar, Koraput and Palam.

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