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Thursday, May 21, 2009
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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A massive exercise to identify the absolute poor in Kerala would get under way on Thursday with select teachers fanning out to far corners of the 14 districts for a fresh survey to identify Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in the State.
The survey is being undertaken by the government to ensure that the benefits of the welfare programmes and schemes reach the really needy and not get disbursed among families that may not be strictly eligible for such assistance. This, it is hoped, would also help the government to save on costs and enable it to honour its welfare commitments better.
The divergence in the number of BPL families as calculated by the Planning Commission and the State government has been causing headache for both. But the government was unable to address the issue so far on account of the political sensitivities involved. However, once it decided to implement the Centrally-sponsored Comprehensive Health Insurance Scheme (CHIS) and later announced in the budget its resolve to distribute rice at Rs.2 a kilo to BPL families, it became imperative for the government to revisit the numbers.
The Planning Commission had pegged the number of BPL families in the State at 11.79 lakh. However, through a survey of its own, the State government had added another 10 lakh families to this. The Centre has been providing assistance only for the 11.79 lakh BPL families identified by the Planning Commission under its various schemes. This has placed a heavy financial burden on the State government which could not possibly ignore its own figures when implementing these programmes in Kerala.Political compulsions
The State government had conducted its survey of BPL families using the services of Kudumbashree Mission volunteers. It had later realised that several of the families identified as belonging to the BPL category were not strictly eligible to belong there. This apparently had happened because of political compulsions playing a part in the list preparation at the level of the local bodies.
This time too, the survey is being conducted under the supervision of the Local Self Government Department but, in order to ensure that it is not influenced by local political interests, the government has entrusted the overall coordination of the survey to the district collectors and the actual survey work to trained teachers. The government has issued detailed orders on the conduct of the survey and prepared a new simplified questionnaire.
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