Plan panel asked to rethink poverty benchmark

Plan panel asked to rethink poverty benchmark

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday once again asked the Planning Commission to review its threshold on poverty, which caps the number of people below the poverty line (BPL) at about 37% of the national population.

The Plan panel uses a criteria based on consumption and spending to determine if people are BPL and therefore qualify for food subsidy. People who spend more than Rs17 a day in urban areas or 12 a day in rural areas do not meet the requirement.

An apex court bench comprising justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Verma asked the Commission’s counsel how it was possible for urban residents to consume the daily requirement of 2,400 calories without spending more than 20 a day. The court described these figures as “totally inadequate" to meet people’s food needs.

The Union government and the Planning Commission have repeatedly said the Central exchequer needs support from the states to meet the food subsidy demand, a position the Supreme Court has opposed in recent months.

The hearing was adjourned to 18 August.