New Delhi: Setting an example for other states, the Delhi government, along with NGOs and other experts, has been conducting surveys across slums in the capital to identify the most vulnerable people - not only on their income but other poverty indicators - and help them benefit all the welfare schemes under a single window system.
Mission Convergence, as the initiative is called, was launched a year back. Under the project, more than 900,000 houses and 4.5 million people were surveyed in phase one and 349,448 out of them identified as most vulnerable.
Delhi Chief Secretary Rakesh Mehta said: "This mission aims to redefine the poverty index and take the welfare schemes to the people who need them the most. We usually talk in terms of 40 government schemes functioning and Rs.4.5 billion being spent on them - but we never ask whether these benefits actually reach the people."
"As part of this mission poverty is not defined in terms of a person`s income. Every person who is homeless is the most vulnerable. Secondly, the survey finds out if a person is socially vulnerable - a widow, an aged person, a child headed household - and if the person in question has any occupation," he said at a press meet in the capital Thursday.
While the second phase of the survey is still on, the third phase will commence in September. The entire survey and identification process will be over by the end of this year, Mehta added.
Rashmi Singh, director of Mission Convergence, said: "As of now we are giving identification numbers to those recognised as vulnerable and our community workers are going from house to house to sensitise them on the various government schemes and the means to avail them."
Pushpa Naik, one of the community workers involved in the programme, said: "Initially people were hesitant to listen to us but slowly they began to trust us and started coming to us with their problems. For instance, one women had no idea how to avail the widow`s pension so I helped her fill the form and submit it at the right place."
The survey also enabled the enrolment of 3,000 beneficiaries to the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana.
Although they have got their identification numbers now, very soon all those people surveyed will be given their own biometric identification cards which will help them get benefits without any hassle.
NC Saxena, commissioner of Supreme Court on Right to Food, who is a part of the project, said: "The BPL (below poverty line) cards that were supposed to help people below the poverty line to access benefits was not a success.
"But after this survey, the biometric identification cards will actually help single out those who genuinely need help," he said.
"This will further go a long way in helping the national programme on national identity cards and can be integrated into that," Mehta said.
In order to access if the schemes are actually benefitting the entitlement holders, a team of experts will analyse the Family Development Index (FDI) over a period of time.
Hailing the efforts, Saxena said: "This programme should be adopted by the ministry of urban development so that something similar can be done in other states."