8.5 million additional BPL families may spark new row

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Patna, Feb 1 (UNI) The tussle between the Centre and the Bihar government over identification of Below Poverty Lline (BPL) families and allocation of sufficient foodgrains to them is likely to aggravate further with the inclusion of additional 8.5 million families in the new BPL list.

Official sources here today said Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had described the present modalities in this regard as ''far from being practical'' and was sparing no pains to impress upon the Centre for adopting a new yardstick for identification of BPL families in all states, including Bihar.

On various fora since last year, Mr Kumar had been advocating for adopting a new yardstick to assess the level of poverty in the state and the present modalities had no relevance as it had failed to provide succour to those toiling hard to meet both ends, sources added.

The draft BPL had incorporated 1.5 crore families from only 6.5 million families earlier indicating more than 50 per cent growth during the past seven years.

On the contrary the Planning Commission had accepted only about 2.5 per cent growth on basis of population figures, the sources stated.

The inclusion of fresh 8.5 million families in the new BPL list would whip up a demand for additional 1.10 lakh ton of foodgrains.

But it could not be fully met by the Centre due to the Planning Commission's strict guidelines.

At best, the Centre could increase food allocation for another one million families. In that case the government would be left with the option of either scaling down the demand for foodgrains by allocating less amount of foodgrains to BPL, Antyodaya and Annpurna beneficieries or purchase additional requirements from the open market at a whopping cost of Rs 1100 crore.

The Chief Minister had already put pressure on the Centre for allocation of additional foodgrains in accordance with the new BPL list and appealed to all political leaders to urge the Centre to provide required amount of foodgrains to the poor as per the proposed fresh BPL list.

Speaking to UNI, Union Minister of State for Civil Supplies Akhilesh Singh, however, refused to give any assurance about the possibility of higher allocation of foodgrains to the new BPL families.

The matter would be looked into when it was brought to notice of the Centre, he observed.

He, however, pointed out that under the Antodaya scheme the performance of the NDA government in Bihar was poor compared to other states.

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