Parl panel asks govt to revisit BPL definition



New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel on Wednesday said different estimates of the country's poor population are "confusing" and the government should revisit the definition of BPL (below poverty line).

"The Committee also urge the government to revisit the definition of BPL with the concerned authorities as they find it confusing that India's poor population rises and falls with every statistical redefinition," Parliament's Committee on Estimates, headed Francisco Sardinha, said in its 18th Report tabled in the Lok Sabha today.

The different estimates on poverty figures can be gauged from the fact that the Tendulkar's Committee report puts the poor population in the country at 81 million families, whereas the Agriculture Ministry is stated to have put the number at 65 million families, the Committee said.

"The Committee would like the Ministry (of Food) to clarify to this point too," the report said.

In the report "Procurement and storage of foodgrains", the committee said it observed "around 37 per cent of the total population falls BPL, problems of hunger is still widespread" even as wheat production in the country has risen by 10 times and rice output by four times in last 50 years.

"Consequently, procurement of foodgrains, maintenance and storage of stocks and effective distribution to the people through PDS and other welfare schemes continue to be a big challenges faced by the government," it said.

It further said "even with bountiful of harvest of rabi and kharif crops, there has been substantial amount of loss of 50,000 tonnes of foodgrains due to mismanagement of procurement as well as inadequate and faulty storage techniques".

This has brought renewed focus on the twin challenges of feeding the poor and overhauling the procurement, storage and distribution infrastructure for foodgrains, it added.

In the report, the Committee has identified certain critical issues such as problem of increasing food subsidy costs, complaints regarding PDS, acute storage facilities among others.

PTI