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260 million people to move above poverty line

Govt plans to achieve the target by 2012, through skill-based training, employment and marketing facilities.

india Updated: Apr 11, 2006 16:00 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A number of schemes, including skill-based training, are being devised in rural areas to help around 260 million people living below the poverty line come above that by 2012, Rural Development Minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh has said.

Dismissing the Planning Commission's apprehension that 11 per cent of India's population may still be under the poverty line by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2012), Singh said the government wants to erase the tag by that time.

"Currently India has around 260 million people living below the poverty line and our ministry believes that by 2012, we will be able to provide them amenities to climb above that barrier," Singh said in an interview.

According to Singh, people in villages would be motivated to take up works like handicraft, handloom, floriculture, horticulture and honey farming. To provide markets for these products, special markets and networks at block, district and at state levels would be set up.

"Instead of allowing foreign players to enter the rural markets, ethnic products will be marketed in a regulated way," Singh said.

"We are trying to achieve the target through skill-based training, employment and marketing facilities for people in rural India," the minister said.

"With this aim, we started the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme in 200 districts across the country in February and efforts are on to expand it to all the districts within the next year."

The scheme promises employment to every rural household in which adult members volunteer to do unskilled work. The target is to remove poverty by assuring at least 100 days of employment in a year. According to World Bank standards, people under the poverty line live on less than one dollar a day.

"Currently, we are studying the impact of the scheme in these districts and a report will be prepared soon."

He said the scheme was launched with an investment of Rs.110 billion ($2.4 billion) and expansion across the country would cost about Rs.400 billion.

"There are a number of other schemes on our agenda that will provide the rural poor a lot of respite. It's a Herculean task and we are constantly in touch with the finance ministry and the Planning Commission in this regard," Singh said, confessing that there had been some financial crunch.

Besides, the ministry is also planning to promote micro financing through self-help groups in rural India.

"During the 11th Five Year Plan, all out efforts will be made to promote micro financing schemes.

"And to implement it, the ministry is planning to set up nearly 500,000 self help groups in collaboration with panchayat raj (local self-government) institutions and non-governmental organisations," he said.

"Depending on ethnicity of the region and efficiency of the people, we will make arrangement for skill-based training for social and economic empowerment."

First Published: Apr 11, 2006 11:00 IST