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PC Defends Its Stance On Poverty

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Under attack over the Rs 32 per capita per day cut off for poverty line, Planning Commission on Monday distanced itself from the controversial definition presented to the Supreme Court saying it did not represent its views.

Addressing the media, Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also said that these figures were not used for extending benefits to the deprived sections of the population.

"People allege that planning commission is trying to understate poverty which is simply not true...," he said while addressing a joint press conference with Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

Planning Commission has come under flak following the affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, which said that persons consuming items worth more than Rs 32 per day in urban areas (Rs 26 in rural areas) are not poor.

As per the affidavit, a family of five spending less than Rs 4,824 (at June, 2011, prices) in urban areas will fall in the BPL (Below Poverty Line) category. The expenditure limit for a family in rural areas has been fixed at Rs 3,905.

Ahluwalia had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday to clarify Planning Commission's view on the controversy.

"The affidavit before the court is a factual affidavit in answer to questions asked by the court. Our legal representative will be there in the court to (explain our position), we will abide by what ever the court order," he said.

By focusing on the daily figures of (Rs 32 and Rs 26) there was an attempt to embarrass the Planning Commission, he said adding that this was not the criteria for giving benefits.

Planning Commission and Ministry for Rural Development will form an expert committee which will look into the findings of socio-econmic and caste census, which is currently on and is expected to be completed by January 2012, Ramesh said.