As the Lok Sabha elections draw near, the UPA government has chalked out an ambitious plan to attract the rural poor. It has come out with a rural household centred strategy to eradicate poverty from India by 2015.
The strategy, formulated by the Union Rural Development Ministry, will target 22 crore people living below the poverty line (BPL) in rural areas. This will cover 73 per cent of the 30 crore BPL population in the country.
“The proposal will soon be presented before the Union cabinet. The Finance Ministry’s Expenditure Finance Committee is examining the draft paper. The Planning Commission has supported the programme,” Union Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh told Hindustan Times. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, too, has endorsed it.
The strategy, he said, envisaged generation of self-employment in credit-linked micro enterprises and salaried in placement-linked, demand-driven skill development under Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) and National Skill Development Mission.
These would be supplemented by wage employment under the National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (NREGA), payment of pension to elderly and vulnerable sections under the National Social Assistance programme, and through income generation and social security programmes of various ministries.
The official poverty line based on consumption poverty (2,400 kcal) is estimated by the National Sample Survey Organisation’s 61st round survey for 2004-05 at Rs 356.30 per capita per month in rural areas. This comes to about Rs 22,000 per annum for a household of five members. There are about 4.5 crore BPL households in the country.
The ministry aims to target the 4.5 crore rural BPL households by enrolling at least one member of each household in a self-help group. This will help in pushing 1.4 crore people above the poverty line through self-employment in credit-linked micro enterprises.