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Survey doubts study on poverty reduction

The Economic survey States that it is too early to tell whether decline in poverty met the targets set in the 10th Plan.

india Updated: Feb 27, 2006 13:57 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India

Stating that it was too early to tell whether decline in poverty met the targets set in the 10th Plan, the Economic Survey said it doubted the findings of an official study about decline in poverty rate as there was some controversy over the methodology.

"The comparability and the extent of actual decline were matters of some controversy due to a change in the methodology for data collection in 1999-2000," the Survey said, referring to the National Sample Survey Organisation's data collection process.

There has been intense debate among academicians regarding the extent of actual incidence in people below poverty line between 1993-99 and 1999-2000.

Citing NSSO data, the Survey said there has been an impressive decline in poverty from 36 per cent in 1993-94 to 26.1 per cent in 1999-2000, and the trend would continue with sustained growth and increase in public sector spendings on social sector programmes like National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme.

"The combined effects of economic growth and measures of direct interventions for poverty alleviation have translated into impressive decline in the incidence of poverty in the recent past," the Survey tabled in Parliament on Monday said.

A "permanent dent" on the incidence of unemployment and poverty would be made through extension of the NREGP programme to the whole country in the next five years, effective implementation of the Right to Information Act and accountability through decentralised Panchyati Raj Institutions, it added.

The Survey said there has been consistent increase in public expenditure on social sectors both by the Centre and the states. The trend is expected to continue with focus on major programmes like National Food for Work programme and NREGP during 2005-06.

The Centre's expenditure, both plan and non-plan, on social service including education, health and family welfare, water supply, housing, nutrition and sports has gone up by 23.5 per cent to Rs 41,873 crore in 2005-06 from Rs 33,901 crore in 2004-05.

In the education sector, imposition of the education cess budgeted outlay for elementary and adult education had more than doubled to Rs 12,532 crore in 2005-06 from Rs 6000 crore in 2004-05.

The gross enrolment ratio which indicates proportion of children in the age group 6-14 years enrolling in elementary schools has increased from 32.1 per cent in 1950-51 to 84 per cent in 2003-04. There has been an increase in GER of girls than boys, the Survey noted.

The number of out-of-school children too has declined to 95 lakh as on October, 2005 from 320 lakh in 2001.

In the health sector, the Survey said that considerable progress has been made but the situation is far from satisfactory.

The launch of National Rural Health Mission would achieve the basic objective of providing an acceptable standard of good health among the general population and enhance public health investment and decentralise public health system.

"The poverty line in India should be Rs 840 per capita per month. At this expenditure level, nearly 69 per cent of the total and 84 per cent of the rural population lives below the poverty lines," it said.

Besides, the definition should also include 'access parameters' that measure access to drinking water, shelter, etc, it said.

The study has found out that 37.7 per cent of Indian households do not have access to a nearby water source, while 49 per cent are without a proper shelter and 69.5 per cent suitable toilets.

It also says that 85.2 per cent of Indian villages do not have a secondary school and 43 per cent are devoid of an all-weather road connecting them.

First Published: Feb 27, 2006 13:57 IST