Poverty estimates: CPM asks PM to shun figures



New Delhi: Describing the fresh poverty estimates of the Planning Commission as a "dishonest" attempt to conceal reality, CPI(M) on Tuesday asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to shun these figures and urged him not to use these "fraudulent" estimates to deny poor people of their right to BPL cards.

In a statement, the party said even the recently released Household Amenities and Assets Census of 2011 shows the extent of poverty in different spheres in India but the Planning Commission has set an "absurdly low" national poverty line of Rs. 22.40 per day for an adult in rural areas and Rs. 28.65 per day for an adult in urban areas in 2009-10.

"Anyone spending more that this is being categorised as non-poor. On the basis of these flawed figures, the Planning Commission claims that the proportion of BPL persons has gone down by 7 per cent between 2004-05 to 2009-10," the party said.

It said it considers the Planning Commission’s poverty estimates to be a "dishonest attempt" to conceal the reality of glaring inequalities and increasing poverty in India.

"The CPI (M) demands that the Prime Minister should make a categorical statement that these fraudulent poverty measures will not be used to deny poor people of their right to BPL cards or be used as a benchmark for allocating funds to the states or for welfare programmes," it said.

Condemning the efforts of the Planning Commission to use "fraudulent methods to deliberately underestimate" the level of poverty in the country, the CPI(M) said in spite of the national outrage when the Planning Commission had given its earlier estimates to the Supreme Court, it has retained the same poverty measure suggested by the Tendulkar Committee.

"This shows the huge gap between the members of the Planning Commission and the reality lived by crores of people in this country who have been burdened by relentless price rise amidst meager incomes. It hardly needs to be stated that these are destitution lines and it is a shame that an institution chaired by the Prime Minister should produce such absurd figures," it said.

PTI