While welcoming Puducherry government’s initiative to disburse ₹1,000 per month to women heads of Below Poverty Line (BPL) households who are not covered under other welfare schemes, former Member of Parliament M. Ramadass requested the government to make an assessment of the real beneficiaries for poverty alleviation programmes in the Union Territory.
In a statement, the economist-turned-politician said that as per information furnished by the Civil Supplies Department in September, 2019, 54% of households are below poverty line which is the ratio of number of red ration cardholders to the total number of households.
Currently, the estimated number of households is 3,58,644 and the number of beneficiaries under the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme (red ration card holders) is 1,81, 825. So, the ratio of poverty is 50.7, he said.
However, as per data released by NITI Aayog in December 2021, the percentage of poverty in Puducherry was 1.72. .“The Lt. Governor and Chief Minister should clarify whether they agree with the data of NITI Aayog or Civil Supplies Department. Given the progress of Puducherry and assessment of various reports, including State Development Report (2010), Audit Report (2018-19), one can safely conclude that only less than 5% of the people belong to BPL category. A logical corollary of the contrast in data reveals that a large number of households are pampered with red ration cards for vote bank politics,” Mr. Ramadass said.
The government should ask itself how a territory with a per capita income of around ₹2.51 lakh and having covered 80% of its population with housing, water supply, education, electricity, pension and banking facilities will have more than half of its population under BPL category, he said.
“The benefits are not reaching the targeted population. The government should conduct a scientific survey to identify the real beneficiaries for poverty alleviation schemes of the government. The Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner should seriously ponder over the critical issue of finance and governance while implementing welfare schemes, he said.