Plan panel may wait for socio-economic census figures
Available indications are that the Plan panel may explore afresh waiting for results of the socio-economic census, expected by the end of this year, to determine the quantum of BPL populace.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who returned from a 10-day visit abroad, will meet panel members Mihir Shah, Abhijit Sen and their colleague Saumitra Chaudhuri on the issue. Shah and Sen, incidentally, have gone public voicing their opposition to the Plan panel affidavit before the Supreme Court, saying those persons spending more than Rs 32 per day in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas are not poor.
Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, who too had opposed the affidavit and had floated an alternative model to measure poverty, has also been invited to participate.
Ahluwalia, who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday to brief him on the outcome of his recent visit, reportedly discussed the criticisms arising out of the affidavit.
As per the affidavit, a family of five spending less than Rs 4,824 (at June 2011 prices) in urban areas will fall in the BPL (Below Poverty Line) category. The expenditure limit for a family in rural areas has been fixed at Rs 3,905. The number of poor entitled to BPL benefits, as per the affidavit, has been estimated at 40.74 crore.
The commission believes that providing benefits to more persons would defeat the purpose of the poverty alleviation programmes.
The Rural Development Ministry is reportedly opposed to the Tendulkar Committee line to determine individual entitlements in government's anti-poverty programmes. Both Sen and Shah have called for waiting till the findings of the socio-economic census, being conducted by the ministry, are out.
"The entitlements should be based on the socio-economic census. There should be no cap based on the Tendulkar committee recommendations. The purpose of the committee is to compare poverty over time across the states. Its terms of reference do not include determination of individual entitlements of government-run programmes," Shah said.
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