The government on Wednesday said that it cannot "guarantee" eradication of poverty by 2020, a day after a Parliamentary standing committee pulled up the Planning Commission for making the claim.
Minister of state for planning Ashwini Kumar told the Lok Sabha that the government will strive to meet the target but cannot guarantee it.
"We are moving towards the target, we have hoped that if we factor the net effect of some of the Government programmes for empowerment of the poor, we will be able to move in that direction," he said.
But, the members expressed disbelief at the plan panel's claim that poverty has come down by 7.4% between 2004-05 and 2009-10 and claimed that in fact poverty has gone up.
"The planning commission has failed to make a realistic assessment," Shailender Kumar of Samajwadi Party said, while demanding a joint parliamentary committee to examine the issue of poverty. Sharad Yadav of Janata Dal (United) described the poverty numbers as a joke on the poor in India.
The minister refused to agree with them and said there can be different views on data, but it was a fact that "extreme edges of poverty" has declined. Kumar also claimed that the UPA government's inclusive growth initiative has helped in reducing poverty in India.
Admitting that there was a problem in determining poverty, the minister said there was a need to re-look at the existing poverty estimation methodology. "We will be setting up an expert group by end of this month to revisit the existing poverty estimation methodology," he said.