Hyderabad: Miffed over the controversy regarding the Planning Commission’s new parameters to measure Below Poverty Line (BPL) category in the country, the Planning panel’s Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Saturday said that the outrage over poverty measurement standards are mere "unprincipled publicity campaign" citing that the rate of poverty declined at a double rate during the rule of the UPA Government as compared to the pre-UPA regimes.

READ MORE: Ramesh slams MPs over BPL definition

Plan panel's poverty meaning irks Badal

"In the pre-UPA period the decline in poverty was taking place at 0.74 percent per year. After 2004 it is taking place at 1.5 percent. So, the decline in poverty during UPA period is double," he added

As per the data released by the Planning Commission, the rate of poverty reduction between 2004-05 to 2009-10 was 1.5 percent every year whereas it stood at an annual rate of 0.74 percent between 1993-94 to 2004-05.
   
"All this criticism that the government is artificially reducing the people below the poverty line is just rubbish. Poverty has gone down from 37.2 percent of the population in 2004 to slightly less than 30 in 2009-10," Ahluwalia said.
   
He refuted remarks that the Government could be trying to keep major chunk of public from some benefits by showing reduction in poverty line.
"This is not true. Many benefits are not linked to poverty line. The most important benefit is Right to Education Act which is not linked to poverty line".
   
"The next most important is NREGA scheme. This is not limited to poverty line below. Third is food security bill. That is not limited to poverty line. As much as 46 percent of the country’s people will benefit from this," he explained.
   
According to him, Planning Commission does not use daily income figures as basis for calculating BPL people. It takes per-family-per-month figures to calculate the figures.

Technical panel to measure poverty

Meanwhile, in a bid to put an end to the controversy over the methodology being adopted to measure poverty, the Planning panel is going to set up a technical committee comprising experts who will look into the entire issue.

Facing criticism over the methodology being adopted to measure poverty, the Planning Commission will soon set up a technical committee comprising experts to look into the whole issue.

Ahluwalia on Saturday said the committee would be announced shortly. He told reporters here on the sidelines of Prime Minister's Rural Development Fellows Programme that based on the recommendations of the proposed panel, poverty would be measured against the new bench-mark from the 12th five-year plan onwards.

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 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 percent in 2009-10, from 37.2 percent 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.

JPN/Agencies