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Govt to set up group to review methods for counting poor

Says variation in estimates of poverty is due to differences in data and yardsticks used

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Amid variation in estimates of poverty in the country, the government has decided to set up an expert group to revisit the methodology of ascertaining the number of poor.

The variation in estimates of poverty is due to the differences in data and yardsticks used, Minister of State for Planning, Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Ashwani Kumar told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply.

The methodology for estimation of poverty followed by the Planning Commission has been based on the recommendations made by the experts in the field from time to time, he said.

"Government has since decided to set up a technical group to revisit the methodology for estimation of poverty and identification of poor taking into account multiple dimensions and indicators...The composition of the technical group and its terms of reference are being finalised," he added.

For 2004-05, rural poverty head count ratio was placed at 41.8%, for urban at 25.7% and 37.2% for all-India.

The head count ratio for 2009-10 is estimated at 29.8% at all-India level, with 33.8% in rural areas and 20.9% in urban areas.

The Planning Commission has updated the poverty lines for 2009-10 as per the recommendations of the Tendulkar Committee using National Sample Survey (NSS) data of Household Consumer Expenditure Survey.

Poverty line at all India level is estimated at MPCE of Rs 673 for rural areas and Rs 860 for urban areas in 2009-10.

The Minister also said the eligibility and entitlements of rural households for central government programmes and schemes will be determined after the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC-2011) survey results are available and have been analysed. The survey was launched in June 2011.

In October last year, the government had announced that the present state-wise poverty estimates using the Planning Commission methodology will not be used to impose any ceilings on the number of households to be included in different government programmes and schemes.

Kumar said the Union Ministry of Rural Development and the Planning Commission will consult with states, experts and civil society organisations to arrive at a consensus on the methodology by the time the SECC-2011 is completed.

"An expert committee will be appointed to ensure that this methodology is consistent with the provisions of the Food Security Bill as it finally emerges," he added.

First Published: Thu, April 26 2012. 19:27 IST