Outrage over Rs 32 benchmark for who's not poor

Outrage over Rs 32 benchmark for who's not poor

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New Delhi:  The Planning Commission has told the Supreme Court that poverty line for urban and rural areas in India could be provisionally placed at Rs. 965 per capita per month and Rs. 781 per capita per month respectively.

This would mean those earning over Rs. 32 a day in urban areas and over Rs. 25 a day in rural India will no longer be getting Below Poverty Line (BPL) benefits.

The Commission has revised its BPL figures but has come in for sharp criticism from activists who say given today's prices, these kinds of limitations and yardsticks are totally inadequate.

Members of Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council (NAC) have also slammed the Commission for being insensitive.

"I don't agree with their view," said Harsh Mander, a member of NAC.

The Planning Commission's new yardstick to define poverty has also outraged UPA ally NCP.

"Apart from meeting, lunches and relaxing, the Planning Commission is not doing anything," said D P Tripathi, the chief spokesperson of NCP.

Planning Commission's new poverty definition came in the form of an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The court had asked the panel to spell out the criteria for getting a Below Poverty Line or BPL card.

Earlier, the plan panel had said anyone who could spend more than 20 rupees a day was not eligible for a BPL card. The cut-off was later revised.

Slamming the government, the BJP has called the move anti-poor.

"The government does not want to provide food security. They are shying away from their responsibility. The NAC has only announced need for food security, but in reality the government is not interested in offering food security to the poor. That is why the government has come up with such an affidavit, wherein poverty won't be removed, but the poor will be removed from the list. We vehemently oppose this move, we challenge the government that they should come forward and discuss the niceties and various points regarding the affidavit," BJP leader Prakash Javadekar said.

The Congress is, meanwhile, trying to play down the report.

"These are not final figures, so it is not right to make casual remarks. There can be genuine bona fide differences in opinion, but they should put their views before the Planning Commission. There is no question of treating any input lightly," Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said.

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