New Delhi: Amid mounting criticism of poverty reduction estimates by the Planning Commission, the panel's Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia on Monday said that the poverty line decided by Tendulkar Committee was being relooked at.
Ahluwalia said Rangarajan Committee, which was formed to give its report on poverty, will take some time and once that report is out the Planning Commission may consider revising the poverty line.
Defending the government, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson said that it is not the government but a group of expert which fixes the poverty line. Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, and Congress leaders Raj Babbar and Rasheed Masood recently made controversial claims about availability of meals at a low cost following the release of poverty-related estimates by the Planning Commission.
Montek, however, said that "political furore over poverty is misleading and undesirable".
He also insisted that the government was not limiting its actions only to those below the poverty line but was aiming to reach out to the 'aam aadmi' (common man). "After 2004, poverty line has sharply declined according to the available data," Montek said.
He also backed the Food Security Bill proposed by the UPA government and said, "75 per cent of rural and 50 per cent of urban population will benefit from Food Security Bill."
Many political parties including a few Congress leaders have criticised the Planning Commission on its poverty criteria. "I have always failed to understand the Planning Commission criteria for fixing poverty line. It is too abstract can't be same for all areas," Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh said on the microblogging site twitter on Sunday.
His remarks came a day after Sibal challenged the method used by the Planning Commission to calculate poverty saying a family of five cannot live on Rs 5,000 a month. "If the Planning Commission said those who live above Rs 5,000 a month are not at poverty line, obviously there is something wrong with the definition of poverty in this country. How can anybody live at Rs 5,000?" he had said in Kolkata.