Key anti-poverty schemes not reaching targeted poor

June 12th, 2008 - 1:14 pm ICT by IANS  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) The benefits of two key government programmes that seek to battle grinding poverty are not fully reaching India’s 270 million destitutes, official statistics say. Internal audits have discovered shortcomings in the implementation of the Swaranjayanti Gram Swarojgar Yojana (SGSY), which is meant to economically empower the poor, and the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), which provides cheap houses for the poor.

A rural development ministry official says that 842,000 people got help from April 2007 to February 2008 against the targeted 1.2 million under SGSY.

The poorest of the poor are known officially to be those living under the Below Poverty Line (BPL). According to the government, a BPL family is one that earns less than Rs.296 every month in urban areas or less than Rs.276 in rural areas.

Assistance under SGSY averages around Rs.27,000 per beneficiary.

The findings are from a report of the ministry of statistics and programme implementation, which monitors the implementation of various government schemes.

Similarly, 1.40 million houses were built between April 2007 and February 2008 for the destitute under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) against a target of 1.94 million units, says the same report, a copy of which is with IANS.

Under the scheme, named after India’s first woman prime minister Indira Gandhi, the government gives Rs.25,000-35,000 for constructing a house in plain areas and Rs.27,500-38,500 in hilly or difficult areas. The scheme also grants up to Rs.15,000 in assistance to upgrade a house.

The scheme’s overall performance is not satisfactory, officials say. Against a target of building six million houses until December 2007, only 4.11 million houses came up.

A senior official in the rural development ministry, the executing agency for IAY, blamed the lacklustre attitude of state governments for its poor performance.

“Several states have failed in meeting targets. Bihar and Gujarat built only 259,305 and 63,159 houses respectively against a target of 519,904 and 86,383 units. Karnataka constructed only 31,697 houses against a target of 67,859,” the official who requested anonymity told IANS.

According to an estimate of the ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation, there is a shortfall of over 169 million dwelling units - 148 million in rural areas and 21.4 million in urban areas.

Government housing schemes for the poor but above the BPL have also failed the targets. Only 21,141 houses were built for this section against a target of 122,741 units.

If the failure on the SGSY and IAY was not enough, state governments have also not properly utilised schemes to improve the lot of the Scheduled Castes.

The Dalits account for 16.2 percent of India’s population and they are regarded as the most disadvantaged section of society.

The same report says that Andhra Pradesh assisted only 187,723 Scheduled Caste families through various welfare schemes against a target of 412,500.

Bihar helped only 16,357 families (target 233,750). Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal helped 139,597 and 27,419 Dalit families against a target of 235,576 and 100,826.

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