Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia addresses a press conference in New Delhi. AFP Photo/Prakash Singh
The Planning Commission on Tuesday admitted of a serious flaw in the National Sample Survey data and national accounts, which led to pegging the poverty line at Rs. 28 per capita daily consumption in cities.
Plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia said the discrepancy between the consumer survey, on whose basis the poverty number were derived, and national accounts was a serious statistical problem.
The commission on Monday had released poverty figures based on the 66th round of the National Sample Survey (2009-10) data on household consumer expenditure survey. The national accounts, which provide data for national income, is prepared by the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO).
According to new estimate, numbers of poor in India were 29.8% in 2009-10, down from 37.2% in 2004-05. These were based on the daily per capita consumption of Rs. 28 in urban cities and R22 in rural areas in 2009-10. The same for June 2011 would be Rs. 32.2 for urban areas and R25.3 for rural areas.
“There is not much difference in what we told the Supreme Court last year and the figures released on Monday,” Ahluwalia said, shunning the criticism in section of media that the panel has fudged poverty norms.
He also said the decline in poverty during the UPA government rule was twice than in the previous 11 years. This came in wake of the Opposition accused the panel of fudging with poverty line to show a huge decline. “Can finance minister and Prime Minister survive on Rs. 28 a day?” asked BJP's SS Ahluwalia.
If the positive trend continues, the panel was confident of eradicating poverty in the next 20 years. “Anyone can calculate by when poverty will vanish as per the present methodology,” said panel member Saumitra Chaudhari, in-charge of estimating poverty. But, it may not happen as the panel would be revising methodology to including the changing consumption pattern.
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