The Gujarat government has refuted allegations made by Congress about the Rs 10.80 per day income norm for BPL card holders in the state by saying that it has been following the Centre's guidelines and demanding its revaluation which has not been done for 10 years.
"Congress and some other party leaders are levelling baseless allegations against the Gujarat government for the last two days on the issue of identifying BPL families. The state has no role to play in setting norms and has to follow the Centre's norms," Gujarat government spokesperson Nitin Patel said here today.
"The fact is that through a letter on January 12 2004, the Planning Commission informed us that it had decided that Gujarat's poverty line is Rs 324 per month for rural areas and Rs 501 per month for urban areas," Patel said, sharing a copy of the letter with reporters.
"From that time, we have been sending representations to the Centre to revise it. Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also represented the case to the Prime Minister, but nothing has changed so far," he said.
Gujarat's Food and Civil Supplies Department has stated in a circular that those earning Rs 10.80 or below per day in rural areas and those earning Rs 16.70 or below per day in urban areas make up the BPL category.
Answering a question on why this circular was released in December 2013, almost 10 years after the Planning Commission's letter, the state government representative said, "This is not a new guideline. There were confusions at the ground level on deciding about BPL families. So we had to issue a circular recently."
"Throughout the entire country, the 2004 poverty line criteria is being followed. In Delhi, where the Congress was in power for the last 15 years, the poverty line is Rs 397.93 per month in rural areas and Rs 541.48 in urban areas as per the Planning Commission's report. In Andhra Pradesh, it is Rs 263.62 per month for rural areas and Rs 484.98 per month for urban areas," he said.
He alleged the Centre had formed various committees to fix the poverty line criteria during the last 10 years, but it had not implemented suggestions by any of them, and this only showed its indecisiveness.
Replying to a question on whether the Gujarat government had suggested any figure for poverty line, Patel said that it should be Rs 2,000.
Patel said according to the Planning Commission, only 21 lakh BPL families were identified, but the Gujarat government gave foodgrains and other stock as per BPL norms to an additional 11 lakh families.
Replying to a question about an increase in the number of poor people in Gujarat, Patel tried to justify it by saying, "If a BPL card holder's family migrates from other parts of the country to earn a living in Gujarat, he is included in the list. Apart from that, population is also increasing, due to which their number is increasing."