Survey shows rise in urban poor population

Staff Reporter

Herculean task for authorities to ensure welfare measures for all those below the poverty line

BHUBANESWAR: Even as Orissa eyes the top slot among developed states of the country in wake of the recent flood of investment proposals, over four lakh of people continue to live below poverty line (BPL) in different cities and urban centres of the State.

As per the Urban BPL List - 2006, the State's developed cities Bhubaneswar and Cuttack have the highest number poor persons. The survey, which was conducted in 2004 and published recently, said Bhubaneswar had 68,649 persons living below the poverty line. The BPL population of the State capital is closely followed by Cuttack with 55,302.

The last BPL survey in urban areas was carried out in 1997-1998. The number of population below the poverty line during that period was 22,413. The urban poverty in the city has increased three times in last eight to nine years.

No exemption

Interestingly, some industrial towns have more poor people than other district headquarters and sub-divisional towns. Industrial towns such as Sunabeda, Jharsuguda, Brajarajnagar and Bargarh have average 8,000 BPL persons. Nearly 9,000 BPL persons live in Brajrajnagar, known for cement industry. Similarly, Bargarh, another town situated closed to cement industries, has 9,705 people living below the poverty line.

Sunabeda and Jharsuguda have also 8,000 odd strong BPL population.

"Government's approach of achieving development through industrialisation falls flat here as the industrialised towns possess more poor people than other centres. It is high time that the administration should adopt a pragmatic approach to raise living standard of these people," says social activist Biswapriya Kanungo.

Gap widening

Difference between rich and poor is getting widened everyday and the authorities should work overtime to bring the marginalised section under social security cover, he says.

While it seems to be a Herculean task for authorities to ensure welfare measures for these urban poor, the State government has not spelt out its plan of action to deal with the situation.

"We have not got the green signal from the state government to disburse BPL cards to all those identified in the list. The state government is in the process of printing names of the BPL persons," Mayor of Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation Mihir Mohanty told The Hindu .

As per the provisions, those who have been identified as BPL persons are entitled to get rice at subsidised rate and can avail bank loans under urban self-employment programme.

The Mayor says efforts are on to involve these persons in self-help groups and facilitate interaction with banking institutions.