The Planning Commission has been asked to find out the correct number of urban poor in the country, Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
"There is an urgent need to arrive at a more robust figure for urban poverty...I have written about it to the Planning Commission," she said.
Replying to a debate on working of her Ministry, she shared concerns of members about lack of reliable and consolidated figures on the numbers of urban poor, most of whom live in slums.
She said the Plan Panel had been asked to expeditiously set up a study group for arriving at a figure of urban poor.
The Planning Commission has also been asked by an Empowered Group of Ministers to redefine the number of people living below the poverty line for the Centre's ambitious plan to provide them legal rights for foodgrains at Rs 3 per kg.
Referring to different programmes of the centre, she asked the state governments to take funds from the additional central allocation for housing schemes in cities.
The minister said states such as Punjab, Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan and Goa have not come forward to take the money.
She said India cannot become a slum-free country unless the states come forward with land for different housing programmes of the government.
"Unless states come forward with land, the dream of urban poverty alleviation cannot be realised," she said.
Earlier, participating in the debate, members expressed concern over the rise of land hoardings by the mafia and the exclusion of poor and middle class from getting affordable housing in urban areas.
Real estate mafia are ruling the roost, they said, demanding that there should be a regulatory mechanism to control hoarding.
K N Balgopal (CPI-M) accused the Government of careless attitude and said lower and middle class people fail to get any house in urban areas due to steep prices.
Besides, the cost of building material is also going up making housing more costly, he said.
Sudarshan Natchiappa (Congress) said migration to urban areas should be stopped to prevent choking of cities.
Prabhat Jha (BJP) said 2.5 crore houses are needed in urban areas and accused the Government of not providing adequate funds to non-Congress ruled states.
Nand Kumar Yadav (Samajwadi Party), N Balaganga (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), M P Achuthan (Communist Party of India), T Siva (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam) and Sushila Tiriya (Congress) also participated in the discussion.