95 percent people in Andhra below the poverty line?

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BPL beneficiaries
Hyderabad, Dec 17: This is not the sort of honour Andhra Pradesh wants to be known for. It has been reported that as many as 95 per cent of the population in Andhra is below the poverty line. The stunning fact was revealed after analysing the statistics available with the state civil supplies department that monitors the public distribution system in the state.

As per the 2011 census figures, the population of Andhra Pradesh is 8.46 crore. There are 2.08 crore households and according to the latest figures with the state civil supplies department, around 2.01 crore ration cards have been distributed to BPL families across the state.

On the assumption that each family consists of 4 members, the total number of BPL beneficiaries will come up to 8.05 crore. This has resulted to the conclusion that more than 95 percent of the population in Andhra Pradesh is below the poverty line.

With the chances of the BPL ration cards being distributed to those who actually do not deserve it, the matter was brought to the attention of AP CM Kiran Kumar Reddy during the two-day collectors' conference on Dec 14 and 15.

The Civil Supplies Minister, D. Sridhar Babu has been asked to correct the figures at the Civil Supplies Department and to root out the bogus beneficiaries. The error was mostly in six districts including Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam Anantapur, Mahbubnagar, Warangal and Nalgonda.

A preliminary enquiry among the department officials found that no scientific procedure was followed in identifying the BPL beneficiaries. A senior official in Warangal has been quoted as saying, "In the past, we used to follow a procedure before issuing a ration card. A team of officials used to conduct door-to-door household survey of the applicants, verify their family details and then decide whether they were eligible for white ration cards. Now, there is no such method being adopted."

Commissioner of Civil Supplies, Harpreet Singh has been quoted as saying, "It is unscientific to arrive at the total number of BPL beneficiaries by assuming that each family has an average of four members. There may be only one member in the family or even two. Not all families will have four members."

He added, "In some places, parents living in villages have their own ration cards, whereas their children living in the urban areas include their (parents') names as well. But while taking the census figures, all of them are recorded as one family. So, there is every possibility that one family might have three or four ration cards."

Singh, however, acknowledged that the number of BPL beneficiaries would be around 7.5 crore, if not 8.01 crore. He commented on the probable figures, "This comes to around 88 per cent." On justifying this figure which was in itself big, Singh said that the state has classified housholds with an annual income up to Rs.60,000 as a BPL family. He added, "Going by that norm, the figure is justified."

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