The National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog has written to the Himachal government seeking comments on poverty alleviation and related ongoing programmes in the state.
At the first meeting of Aayog, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it was decided that all states would set up two task forces each - one on agricultural development, while another on poverty alleviation.
In the letter, the Aayog has also asked the state government to form a task force for agricultural development and to develop a framework, especially for reorientation of the centrally-sponsored schemes for the agriculture sector.
The planning department has sought response from all departments concerned regarding the status of poverty reduction and functioning of the schemes aiming to uplift the status of economically backward people in the state.
Following the NITI Aayog's directions, a national task force on agricultural development was set up on March16 to gather status reports and comments from state-level task forces by June 15 for preparing a report by June end.
Around two-dozen departments deal with the poverty alleviation task and several schemes aiming to alleviate poverty in the state are going on. Himachal has nearly 3lakh families living below poverty line (BPL).
A World Bank's report 'Scaling the heights', released in January, has also appreciated the state's effort in poverty alleviation, stating the state's achievements toward social inclusion have been its success in raising people out of poverty over the two decades leading up to 2011.
"Himachal Pradesh is still predominantly rural, and between 1993-4 and 2011, rural poverty declined from 36.8% to 8.5% - a fourfold drop, which is impressive by any standard,"said the report.
"Himachal Pradesh stands apart from many states in India with its strong track record of poverty reduction, service delivery, and human and social development outcomes,"said Maitreyi Das, a leading social development specialist, World Bank, and an author of the report.
In agricultural sector, the Centre has delinked various schemes and patron of a few has been altered. Sources with the planning department told Hindustan Times that after formation of the task force, it would also give its comments on the centrally-sponsored schemes for the agricultural sector, whuich has been an area of concern for the NITI Aayog.
Himachal's economic survey also revealed that economy has shown a shift from the agriculture sector to industries and services as the percentage contribution of agriculture and allied sectors in total state domestic product has declined from 57.9% in 1950-51 to 55.55% in 1967-68, 26.5% in 1990-91.
The share of the agricultural sector declined to 14.25% in 2013-14 as it was 14.42% in 2012-13. Food-grains production, which was 15.41 lakh million tonnes in fiscal 2013, increased to 15.76 lakh million tonnes in 2013-14 and is expected to rise to 16.2 lakh million tonnes in 2014-15.
Himachal Pradesh's poverty rate
Year Rural Urban
1993-94 36.8% 13.6%
2004-05 25% 4.6%
20011-12 8.5% 4.3%