Needs, not cutoff, to define urban poor
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The urban poor will cease to be defined on the basis of a monthly income cutoff, currently Rs 4,824 for a family. Under a formula the government is set to introduce, "baskets" based on people's vulnerabilities will divide families into two groups, one automatically included in the poverty bracket, the other automatically excluded.
Being homeless or jobless, or consisting entirely of people aged below 18 or above 65, are among the factors that will automatically include a family as poor. Automatically excluded will be families with a motor vehicle, a concrete house with four or more rooms, or electronic appliances such as an air-conditioner or a refrigerator.
The ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation will grade urban on the basis of economic, social and occupational vulnerabilities. HUPA minister Ajay Maken said this will be as per the recommendations of the Hashim Committee set up by the Planning Commission a few years ago to devise ways to alleviate poverty.
"We are still examining the report but among the recommendations we have decided to adopt is that, instead of a blanket income cut-off, poverty should be estimated in terms of vulnerabilities — housing, economic, social, occupational — and schemes should be targeted specifically towards the vulnerable groups," Maken said.
"Our aim is to have a basket of 50 per cent of the urban population among whom to distribute schemes for poverty alleviation as per their needs. We will adopt the automatic exclusion, automatic inclusion and grading mechanism prescribed by the Hashim Committee," Maken said. The "50 per cent vulnerable" basket would vary from city to city. Data from the ongoing socio-economic caste census, said to be 93 per cent complete, will be used for the grading.
The grading of the population will be according to their needs. Based on data from the caste census, families will be assigned points. For example, those living in a house with it roof/walls of grass or thatched bamboo would be given 2 points, those living under a roof of handmade tiles 1. The higher this score, the stronger the family's entitlement to a scheme: a family that scores very high on the housing vulnerability index would be a priority for schemes such as Rajiv Awas Yojana.
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