NITI Aayog has asked state governments not to use the poverty line based on the Tendulkar formula to identify the poor but only for tracking people below subsistence level for extending benefits under the various government schemes and programmes.
At a regional meeting of southern states to discuss ways of eliminating poverty, the planning body asked the governments to set the poverty line at a stage where the extreme poor could be tracked.
For tracking the poor governments can use components like housing, and access to National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which guaranteed 100 days of wage employment to each household as well as the Food Security Act. People who are unable or are left out of such schemes should be categorised as poor, according to NITI Aayog.
''We have taken a position that poverty line should not be used for identifying the poor but to track them,'' NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya said at a meeting on 'Eliminating Poverty: Creating Jobs and Strengthening Social Programmes'.
Since there is no single yardstick for eligibility under the various welfare schemes such as 'housing for all', MGNREGA and others, there is no point using poverty line as criterion for selecting beneficiaries of all government schemes, he said.
''We do not want to get into a discussion on poverty line. The poverty line set by Tendulkar committee may be taken into consideration or by Rangarajan Committee or World Bank. But we want to use it only as a tool to track the poor,'' he said.
However, he claimed there was a decline in poverty in the country as per the data available with the government between 1993-94 and 2011-12.
NITI Aayog is focusing on providing houses to the homeless, sanitation and drinking water, Panagariya said.
''NITI Aayog believes that drinking water is a fundamental issue in this country. We will pursue with the Centre taking steps to make available drinking water to all the citizens,'' he said.
Appreciating the work done by self-help groups and NGOs, he said NITI Aayog was of the view that midday meal scheme being implemented by Akshaya Patra Foundation in Tamil Nadu should be implemented in other states as well.
He also praised the work being done by self-help groups in AP and telengana's Stree Nidhi scheme.
He said Telangana raised the issue of Nutrition Security Act and drinking water during the discussion and Aayog was looking into it.
The meeting focused on measurement of poverty, identification of beneficiaries of poverty alleviation programmes and ways to make anti-poverty programmes more effective.