Panchayat members to accompany caste enumerators (Lead)

August 9th, 2011 - 12:27 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Monday said the ongoing enumeration for socio-economic and caste census (SECC) was not a listing for BPL families.

He said the enumeration has been made more open by inclusion of panchayat members in the process of canvassing.

Addressing a meeting here in connection with SECC, which was launched from Tripura in June, the minister said deprivation criterion to identify poor households could be reworked by giving more weightage to some indicators.

The census is slated to be completed by December this year.

Ramesh said the presence of panchayat representatives will ensure that there are witnesses when the enumerator, along with a data entry operator, visits a rural household with a questionnaire and responses are entered in a hand-held device.

“I am open to (changes in) relative weightage of deprivation criterion…(but) there is no urgency. We can wait for enumeration to be over,” he said.

There are seven deprivation indicators, each of which has at presnt been given equal weightage in calculating inclusion priority.

The indicators are: households with only one room with “kutcha walls and kutcha roof”, households with no adult member between 16 and 59, female-headed households with no adult member between age 16 and 59, households with any disabled member and no able-bodied adult member, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe households, households with no literate adult above 25 years, and landless households deriving the major part of their income from manual casual labour.

Ramesh said the ministry was not doing a BPL (below poverty line) census but generating a rank listing of rural households based on an automatic exclusion, inclusion and deprivation criterion which will be given to state governments.

The minister added that once the listing has been given to the state governments, they will use the Planning Commission’s estimate of poverty to determine which households will be classified as BPL.

“When the 12th Plan begins, it is our expectation that state governments would have completed the exercise who the BPL (families) are,” Ramesh said.

Admitting that there had been criticism of the poverty criterion adopted for SECC, Ramesh said he had called a meeting of leading poverty experts of the country Aug 16.

“Whoever has a problem with the criterion can make a presentation,” he said.

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