New Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren has brought about a silent revolution in the state. He has redefined poverty.
From the end of this month, if you earn up to Rs 10,000 a month, ride a motorcycle and have a brick house with five acres of land in Ranchi, you will still be eligible for the benefits for families below poverty line.
The state food and civil supplies department issued a new set of 13 norms and directed all field offices, including the block development and food and civil supplies offices and municipal corporations to follow the new yardsticks.
The Centre is also planning to revise BPL income criteria of Rs 20,000 a year in rural and Rs 30,000 a year in urban areas. The Ministry of Rural Development proposed that families with monthly earnings of not more than Rs 5,000 a month should be entitled to BPL benefits.
State Chief Secretary Shiv Basant claimed that the new yardsticks were worked out on the basis of the Centre’s guidelines. But when asked to clarify the income criteria, he refused to talk.
The Jharkhand guidelines were devised at a cabinet decision on December 30, 2009. The department also issued another set of five norms to determine which families should be excluded from the BPL list.
It said families that have double the district average of five acres of agriculture land would be automatically excluded from the list. Plus, families owning three or four-wheelers or mechanised farm equipment would not be eligible for BPL benefits.
A senior state government official said on condition of anonymity: “Under the new norms, families which do not fulfill the exclusion criteria, but have more than the stipulated BPL wealth limit, have every right to enjoy the benefits.”
Food and Civil Supplies Department Secretary B.K. Tripathi said he had nothing to say as the new sets of norms were issued only after the state cabinet approved them.