New Delhi: Nobody have forgotten the fact that the Planning Commission has earlier set the definition of poor by saying that one who earns Rs 28 a day in the urban areas are not living below the poverty line, but at the same time it is hard to believe that the same body is spending a whopping Rs 35 lakhs on refurbishing two toilets at its headquarters!

Quite surprised! It is difficult to understand that in a country like India, a poor hardly gets two square meals a day and the office machinery put a blind eye to their needs. At the same time it is astonishing to see that the planning commission won’t mind in spending Rs 35 lakh on renovating two mere toilets in its office?

Defending its move on spending so much on mere two toilets, the Planning Commission has issued a statement in an attempt to explain why it has spent 35 lakhs on renovating two toilets in its office. "It is unfortunate that what is routine maintenance and upgradation is being projected as wasteful expenditure. The impression is being created that this has been spent on two toilets. That is totally false because these can be used by 10 people simultaneously," states the press release. 

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the Deputy Chairman of the Commission, avoided questions on Wednesday morning about the controversy. The expenditure was revealed by a Right to Information (RTI) activist Subhash Agrawal.

The Commission claims that despite five lakhs being spent on installing a system to limit access to the swanky toilets to those with smart cards, the toilets are not reserved for senior members.

Documents accessed through Mr Agrawal's RTI reveal that there were plans to install security cameras in the corridors leading to these toilets to ensure equipment was not stolen. The 35-lakh toilets were, according to plans, to serve as models for upgrading another three toilets in the building at a later stage.

The Planning Commission and its Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia created a major controversy recently over their poverty estimates - they pegged the poverty line at Rs. 28.65 in urban areas, meaning that anyone who spent more than Rs. 28 per day would not be considered poor.


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