The ongoing socio-economic census to identify the poor living in urban areas may not reflect the true picture owing to procedural drawbacks, housing and urban poverty alleviation (HUPA) minister Kumari Selja has said.
A miffed Selja has recently sent a letter to planning commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, blaming the plan panel for the delay in finalising the methodology to identify the urban poor.
“This will affect the quality of the ongoing census. The survey is already under way, but field testing of the methodology has not been carried out as it is yet to be finalised,” Selja told HT in an interview.
As the socio-economic and caste census (SECC), 2011 started in July, HUPA went ahead based on the methodology recommended by an expert group. No field testing was conducted before the survey started.
The plan panel had on May 2010 appointed the expert group headed by former member SR Hashim to finalise the methodology. The committee has so far submitted only an interim report recommending a methodology. In the first phase, while SECC is completed in Dadra and Nagar Haveli, more than 80% of the process is over in Chandigarh , Puducherry and Daman and Diu. The second phase will start soon. The rural development (RD) ministry, HUPA and registrar general of India (RGI) have jointly started the census.
Unlike HUPA, RD ministry, which is carrying out the census to identify the rural poor, had not only finalised the methodology (recommended by an expert group led by NAC member NC Saxena), but also field tested it to fine-tune the questionnaire, before starting its survey.
Selja said in the absence of accurate figures, key welfare schemes won’t reach the poor. Selja’s red flag comes close on the heels of the recent controversy over the plan panel’s poverty line estimation.