Red Cross seeks revision of BPL classification

Last Updated: Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 19:02

New Delhi: In the backdrop of the controversy
over government affidavit on Below Poverty Line cap, world`s
largest humanitarian organisation IFRC on Thursday suggested
revisiting classification of BPL people.

It also argued that the proposed National Food Security
Bill will not be sufficient to wipe out hunger in the country.

"The present classification of below and above the
poverty line needs to be revisited.

"Instead, the finding of the National Commission on
Enterprise in the Unorganised Sector that 836 million people
in India spend less than Rs 20 a day on food, should be
criterion for a meaningful food-for-all programme," World
Disasters Report-2011 by International Federation of Red Cross
and Red Crescent Societies stated.

The report, released here, also suggested that average
ration of 35 kg per family also needs to be "revised upwards,
coupled with the need to expand the food basket to include
coarse cereals and pulses."

The Plan panel in an affidavit in the Supreme Court had
said that urban households having five members with daily
consumption basket of food and other items of more than Rs 161
will not be entitled to benefits provided BPL families, while
in rural areas, households with same number of members
spending more than Rs 130 on consumption of food and other
articles will not fall in the category.

Accordingly, only those individuals consuming less than
Rs 32 per day in urban areas and Rs 26 in rural areas will be
treated as poor.

The IFRC argued that National Food Security Bill will not
alone be sufficient to wipe out hunger from India and
suggested a holistic approach to secure livelihood for poor
and sufficient food grains production for achieving the goal.

"Food alone will not be the answer.... Government needs
to plan for providing livelihood to poor families and produce
more food in sustainable manner," Mihoko Tamamura, World Food
Programme director (India), said.

IFRC also advised the government to set up food grain
banks at village and sub-district levels.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red
Crescent Societies suggested more investment in agriculture in
India.

"Agriculture is the backbone of the Indian economy. Over
the years, India`s agricultural production has remained static
or not increased in proportion to ever-growing population.

"Rapid urbanisation and increased migration of people
from rural to urban areas in search of livelihoods are some of
the factors working against development of agriculture in
India," the report said.

It also raised concerns over the rising prices of food
items across the globe, including India and said, "In January
2011, Indian food prices hit their highest level in more than
a year. Millions of Indians spend more than 50 per cent of
their household income on food, so any rise in food prices is
extremely detrimental to health, welfare and security."

The report also points out wastage of food when 15 per
cent of world population is undernourished. "An estimated 30
per cent of all food crops are wasted. Halving the amount of
food wasted by 2050 would cut the amount of food required by a
quarter of today`s production."

While, an estimated nine million malnourished children
across the world die before attaining age of five, 60 per cent
of undernourished people are women.

IFRC says that 63,611 Indians were killed in various
disasters such as drought, earthquake and floods in the last
decade while 2,234 people died last year in such
incidents.

Jagan Chapagain, IFRC Asia Pacific director, said foreign
investors are engaging in "land grabs" in several African
countries.

"5-10 million hectare agricultural land has been lost to
degradation. Biofuel production had diverted 20 million tons
of food crops," he said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 19:02

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