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Plan panel distances itself from poverty line definitio

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia along with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh addressing a press conference in New Delhi on Monday.

Under attack over its poverty line definition, Rs. 32 per capita per day, Planning Commission on Monday distanced itself from the controversial definition presented to the Supreme Court saying it did not represent the Commission’s views.

Addressing the media, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also said that these figures were not used for extending benefits to the deprived sections of the population.

“People allege that Planning Commission is trying to understate poverty which is simply not true…,” he said while addressing a joint press conference with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

‘Attempt to embarrass commission’

“The affidavit before the court is a factual affidavit in answer to questions asked by the court. Our legal representative will be there in the court to (explain our position), we will abide by what ever the court order is,” he said.

By focusing on the daily figures of (Rs. 32 and Rs. 26) there was an attempt to embarrass the Planning Commission, he said adding that this was not the criteria for giving benefits.

The Planning Commission and Ministry for Rural Development will form an expert committee which will look into the findings of socio-economic and caste census, which is currently on and is expected to be completed by January 2012, Mr. Ramesh said.

Planning Commission has come under flak following the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, which said that persons consuming items worth more than Rs. 32 per day in urban areas (Rs. 26 in rural areas) are not poor.

As per the affidavit, a family of five spending less than Rs. 4,824 (at June, 2011, prices) in urban areas will fall in the BPL (Below Poverty Line) category. The expenditure limit for a family in rural areas has been fixed at Rs 3,905.

Mr. Ahluwalia had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday to clarify Planning Commission’s view on the controversy.

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