Civil society asks plan panel members to live at the poverty line expenditure | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Civil society asks plan panel members to live at the poverty line expenditure

Civil society members have termed Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia's claim that poverty line was not linked with food subsidy as incorrect and challenged him and other panel members to live at Rs 25 or Rs 32 every day.

delhi Updated: Sep 29, 2011 21:37 IST
HT Correspondent

Civil society members have termed Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia's claim that poverty line was not linked with food subsidy as incorrect and challenged him and other panel members to live at Rs 25 or Rs 32 every day.

The panel has been under flak for submitting an affidavit in the Supreme Court saying that those spending less than Rs 32 per day in urban area and less than Rs 25 in rural areas on food, health and education were poor.

A letter to Ahluwalia, signed by civil society activists including NAC members Aruna Roy and Harsh Mander, seeks withdrawal of the affidavit and says that all central government allocations for programmes such as public distribution scheme and pensions are based on poverty line ratios.

"You (Ahluwalia) may explain to the lay public that is spending astronomical amounts on food and health care, what this poverty line is then relevant for, if not subsidies for basic needs," the letter said.

The activists also said that his defence of the affidavit was poor and needs to be examined against facts such as India being home to the largest number of hungry people, people without the advantage of education, and the highest maternal and infant mortality deaths in the world.

The letter full of pun against his defence of the affidavit in Beijing also questioned the rationale of plan panel members getting 150 times excluding allowances of the poverty line if it believed that much money was adequate for one to live healthy life. The activists asked him and members to try and live at the expenditure defined for poor at the times of rising inflation despite Ahluwalia repeatedly claiming that it will fall.

"We believe that this affidavit is a document, no less historically significant than the "India Shining" campaign that brought the downfall of a previous regime, because it reflected arrogance and contempt for the poor comparable to the views held by the Planning Commission," the letter spearheaded by Right To Food campaign said.