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India's poverty line likely to be revisited by new panel

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New Delhi:

In the wake of the Planning Commission's controversial definition of poverty last year, a new panel is likely to be formed to consider the country's socio-economic profile being brought out by the Socio Economic Caste Census (SECC) to determine the poverty line.

According to the government, 89 per cent of the SECC is completed and the census report will be ready by next month. Only three states--Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Manipur--have to complete the process that began June last year.     

Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said new poverty line would not be based on the Suresh  Tendulkar Committee report and "some other line" will be there to identify the beneficiaries of government's social security programmes.

"...Where the poverty line will be drawn... that we have not decided. What we have said is that it won't be Tendulkar line. It would be some other line. So, where the povertyline will be drawn, that issue is yet to be decided," he told reporters while disclosing the progress made in caste census.

Asked whether a new panel will be set up to determine beneficiaries, the Minister said it would be decided "soon" and the issue is being discussed with the Planning Commission.

According to the Planning Commission's estimates, based on the Tendulkar Committee methodology, people consuming more than Rs 28.65 per day in cities and Rs 22.42 in rural areas are not considered poor.

This yardstick had triggered a controversy and had rocked Parliament and the Planning Commission has set up an experts’ group headed by noted economist C Rangarajan to review the Tendulkar Committee  methodology for estimating poverty.

The SECC is being carried out by the government to generate information on a large number of social and economic indicators relating to households across the country.

Government says this exercise will help to better target government schemes to right beneficiaries and ensure all eligible beneficiaries are covered while all ineligible beneficieries are excluded.

Story first published on: November 20, 2012 20:23 (IST)

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