Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia is pitching for supply of 35 kg of foodgrains every month at Rs. 3 a kg to the poor, up from 25 kg proposed under the new Food Security Act.

“Not unreasonable if it is for the poor”

It is not wrong or unreasonable to increase the quantity. “This will be costlier but if we are doing it for the poor, it will not be unreasonable,” he told journalists on the sidelines of a CII-organised interaction with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner here on Tuesday night.

Dr. Ahluwalia's remarks came a day after the Empowered Group of Ministers, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, asked the Commission to provide an exact definition of Below the Poverty Line (BPL) families which are entitled to a specified quantity of rice or wheat every month.

As for the Suresh Tendulkar Committee report on measuring poverty, he said: “We are examining it. We will certainly prepare an estimate of BPL households on the basis of the Committee report.”

The government, he said, would have to decide which data to use while providing the needy food security: the poverty line fixed in the 2004-05 survey or the one to be obtained from the ongoing survey (2009-10) or from a new census (2011).

“The Tendulkar Committee has suggested some increase in the poverty line for rural areas. I don't think it is unreasonable.”

The 2004-05 survey put the number of BPL families at 6.5 crore. It would increase to a little over eight crore, if the methodology suggested by the committee was taken in account.

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