Bhopal: Rejecting widespread criticism for pegging poverty line at Rs 28.65 daily consumption,Plan panel Deputy Chairman Montek singh Ahluwalia on Saturday asserted that the number of poor in the country has come down irrespective of the method of calculation.

"..whatever poverty line you choose. The question is poverty in the country is going down. Some people have said that it is not correct..poverty is not going down..I reject that view...I categorically say whatever indicator you use things are getting better in this country," Ahluwalia said.

As per the Commission's estimates, based on the Tendulkar Committee formula,poverty ratio has declined to 29.8 percent in 2009-10,from 37.2 percent in 2004-05. But the ratio has been worked out based on a controversial per capita daily consumption of Rs 28.65 in cities and Rs 22.42 in rural areas.

He also said that Rs 28.65 poverty line would not be linked with the social sector schemes of the government. "The Commission will take a holistic view with what poverty line, we want to go ahead. It is clear that we are no linking it with the beneficaries of the social sector schemes," he said.

Ahluwalia, who was talking to reporters after ground-breaking ceremony of the Trident group's textile unit, however,said "the Tendulkar Committee line ... I think, it is quite reasonable.Today, we are growing faster". The plan panel deputy chief said.

Earlier this week, Ahluwalia was the target of attack inside and outside Parliament after the Planning Commission put out the poverty numbers. Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav even asked for his removal.

Ahluwalia said, "you can question the poverty line. There is nothing sacrosanct about it. If somebody wants poverty line to be higher; if the country feels we should raise it, absolutely, there is nothing wrong". But it would be incorrect to say that the poverty is not getting reduced.

He also said that Rs 28.65 poverty line would not be linked with the social sector schemes of the government.

"The Commission will take a holistic view with what poverty line, we want to go ahead. It is clear that we are no linking it with the beneficiaries of the social sector schemes," he said.

Also present on the occasion, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, "We (the state) had set the target of 7 percent growth rate in 11th Plan (2007-12). We surpassed the target and grew by over 9 percent."

"This time (for 12th Plan) we have set a road map to take  it (the state's economic growth) to 12 percent. We will improve our infrastructure. "

(Agencies)