New Delhi: The rural development ministry is devising new criteria to identify those living below the poverty line (BPL), which could have caste and religion as determinants, rural development minister C.P. Joshi said on Monday.
This is in line with recommendations by a committee headed by N.C. Saxena, which suggested giving additional marks for scheduled castes and tribes, most backward castes, other backward classes and religious minorities.
“We are waiting for NSSO (National Sample Survey Organisation) figures,” Joshi said. “The moment we get them, we will ready the criteria.” He was addressing the 10th Editors’ Conference held in the Capital.
Currently, BPL families are identified on the basis of scores—zero to four—on 13 socio-economic parameters.
The BPL information is the basis for various welfare programmes of the government. While the Planning Commission, the country’s apex planning agency, estimates the level of poverty, the census to identify BPL households is undertaken by the rural development ministry.
The ministry had appointed the Saxena committee in August 2008 after various states pointed out major anomalies in the method adopted during the 2002 BPL census.
Joshi also admitted that the biggest problem with implementing the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, India’s flagship welfare programme, was the delay in paying wages, but said the government was making efforts to tackle the situation.
“This is one of the important issues we have been trying to address,” he said. “We have taken several steps to tackle the situation.”
Bank accounts had been opened for the payment of wages as a way of resolving the issue, the minister said.
“However, we could not resolve the issue of issuing biometric cards to the workers for their payment through banks,” he added.
PTI contributed to this story.