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Urban poverty survey begins this month


A survey to count the number of urban poor in India will begin this month. Being the first of its own kind, the survey is being done to ensure the effective execution of various social welfare schemes of government. The survey will be conducted by the Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation (MHUPA).

Starting from June, the survey will be finished by December in all states and cover all urban households. The numbers will be out by the end of January 2012. The government has constituted a task force to monitor the progress of the urban BPL survey.

According to official data, out of total 300 million people living in India's roughly 45 cities and over 5,000 towns, approximately 90 million are poor. The poverty cut-off line as Planning Commission told the Supreme Court this month is daily consumption expenses per head of Rs 20 in urban areas and Rs 15 in rural areas (at 2004-05 prices).

A questionnaire has been prepared for ground staff which will carry out the survey and people will be identified on the basis of "definition of urban BPL" being finalised by the Hashim committee.

The Planning Commission had constituted an expert group under S.R. Hashim in May 2010 to recommend detailed methodology for identification of BPL families in urban areas in the context of the 12th Five Year Plan.

The expert group submitted an interim report this month recommending that poverty in urban areas be identified through specific vulnerabilities in residential, occupational and social categories. It said that:

  • Those people who are homeless, live in temporary houses where usage of dwelling space is susceptible to insecurity of tenure and is affected by lack of access to basic services should be considered residentially vulnerable.
  • People unemployed for a significant proportion of time or with irregular employment or whose work is subject to unsanitary or hazardous conditions or has no stability of payment for services should be regarded occupationally vulnerable.
  • Households headed by women or minors or where the elderly are dependent on the head of household or where the level of literacy is low or members are disabled or chronically ill should be considered socially vulnerable.

The expert group is yet to finalise the detailed methodology for an ordinal ranking of the poor on the basis of vulnerability.

The BPL survey will be done by staff of municipalities or urban departments in 45 major cities. In smaller towns, district magistrate will be the nodal officer.

The urban BPL survey is expected to enable the effective design and delivery of inclusive programmes for the urban poor and allow for more effective targeting, and delivery of urban poverty alleviation schemes/programmes thereby minimizing leakages and wasteful expenditures through the preparation of the latest lists of households living below the poverty line.

According to the Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation, this survey is important in the context of the proposed food security act and the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) which aims to make cities free of slums besides better targeting of other schemes which are currently in the pipeline.

Write to d-sector  |  Editor's Note

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Socio-Economic Development  > Indian Economy > Poverty

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Planning Commission's BPL projection unrealistic: Meghalaya
Wednesday, February 10, 2010

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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