Over 5.5 cr BPL households under 2002 census

New Delhi: The government on Wednesday said over 5.5 crore families have been identified as Below Poverty Line (BPL) by various states and union territories under the 2002 Census, although a few other have either not covered or failed to report about the segment.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Planning and Parliamentary Affairs Ashwini Kumar said the figure is less than that of the 1997 census, when number of BPL families was identified at 5.55 crore but added that the two were not comparable due to the diverse methodologies used.

"As per guidelines issued for BPL census 2002, there was a ceiling on the number of BPL households to be identified in conformity with the poverty estimates of Planning Commission," the minister said.

Kumar said the government has received requests from a few states to increase the ceiling for identification of BPL households.

"Expert group headed by Suresh Tendulkar has submitted its report (for increase in ceiling) and the same has been accepted by the Planning Commission," he said.

As per the 2002 BPL census, the highest number of poor families were in Bihar (1.13 crore), followed by Uttar Pradesh (one crore), Maharashtra (45 lakh), Madhya Pradesh (40 lakh) and West Bengal (39 lakh).

However, a few states and UTs like Orissa, Tripura, Chhattisgarh and Kerala have either not recorded the data or not reported the number of BPL households.

"Results of BPL census 1997 and 2002 are not comparable as both the surveys were conducted with different methodologies," Kumar added.

The minister also said that currently there are no uniform criteria for identification of persons below poverty line in urban areas.

The Planning Commission has constituted a committee sunder the chairmanship of S R Hashim to recommend suitable methodology for identifying BPL families in urban areas.

"The report of the expert group is expected to be submitted by May 2011," Kumar said.