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Rediff News  All News  » Business » Families with cars, laptops, PCs not poor: Expert panel

Families with cars, laptops, PCs not poor: Expert panel

January 25, 2013 19:22 IST

Urban households having car, air conditioners or computer/laptop with internet should be automatically excluded from the list of poor, suggested a Planning Commission-appointed expert group.

According to the expert group headed by renowned economist S R Hashim to suggest methodology for identifying urban poor, households having three of the four items like refrigerator, motorised two-wheelers, landline telephone or washing machines should not be treated as poor.

The panel has suggested that the government should use three-stage approach -- automatic exclusion, automatic inclusion and scoring index -- to identify urban poor.

Planning Commission had constituted the expert group to recommend the detailed methodology for the identification of families living below poverty line in the urban areas on May 13, 2010.

The automatic exclusion would imply that households possessing specified assets should be removed from the Below Poverty Line (BPL) list. Under the automatic inclusion step, homeless families facing social and occupation deprivations should be included in the BPL list.

The report said that families living in houses with roof and wall made of plastic or polythene or the household having only one room or less with the material of wall being grass, thatch, bamboo, mud, un-burnt brick or wood and the material of roof being grass, thatch, bamboo, wood or mud be treated as poor.

Under occupational vulnerability, the household having no income from any source should be included automatically.

As per the report, a family be defined as poor if any of its member (including children) is a beggar or rag picker, domestic worker and sweeper or sanitation worker or mali. The family would also be poor if all its earning adult members are either daily wagers or workers with irregular wagers.

In the third and final stage, the remaining households should be assigned scores from 0 to 12 based on various indicators of residential, social and occupational vulnerabilities.

Those households with scores from 1 to 12 should be considered eligible for inclusion in the BPL list in the increasing order of the intensity of their deprivations meaning thereby that those with higher scores are more deprived, the report suggested.

The expert group recommends that the set of households qualified for automatic inclusion in the set of BPL households should be taken as hard core poor.

The expert group felt that the identification of urban poor should be a participatory exercise involving general public with an appropriate grievance redressal mechanism ensuring greater transparency and accountability in the process.

It also recommended that the state governments should be given flexibility regarding the appointment of nodal officers in establishing the grievance redressal mechanism.

The government, it added, could use SMS service, helpline numbers, emails etc to redress grievances of the people.

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