Planning Commission won't alter its affidavit in court
Under attack for its Rs. 26 and Rs. 32 per capita cut-off for rural and urban poverty line, the Planning Commission on Monday admitted that the benchmark was “very low,” but said it would not alter or withdraw its affidavit in the Supreme Court on the issue as it was “factual.”
In a damage-control exercise, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, however, declared at a press conference that the government favoured de-linking of food entitlement and other social programmes from the present poverty line that was derived from the Suresh Tendulkar Committee's findings.
This may require amendments to the draft National Food Security Bill, which was posted on the Food Ministry's website for public comments.
The Bill provides for grains entitlement to 75 per cent of the rural population, with a minimum of 46 per cent households as ‘priority.' It is this ceiling on the number of ‘eligible' poor households that the civil society is opposing.
“The present State-wise poverty estimates using the Planning Commission's methodology will not be used to impose any ceiling on the number of households to be included in different government programmes,” said a joint statement issued by Mr. Ahluwalia and Mr. Ramesh.
The new methodology for determining poor households in rural areas would be based on the socio-economic caste census that was expected to be completed by January 2012.
The census would take into account deprivations based on seven indicators worked out by the Rural Development Ministry. A similar census in urban areas would be undertaken later.