Poverty rises in Northeast - Decline in Tripura, Arunachal; increase in Assam, Nagaland, Manipur

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By Staff Reporter
  • Published 20.03.12

Guwahati, March 19: Guwahati may be waiting for its Mercedes Benz debut but the state’s poor have become poorer in the past five years, with Assam and four other states of the Northeast recording a rise in poverty levels, Planning Commission figures revealed today.

Assam now has 116.4 lakh persons living below the poverty line, Manipur 12.5 lakh, Meghalaya 4.9 lakh, Mizoram 2.3 lakh, Tripura 6.3 lakh, Nagaland 4.1 lakh and Arunachal Pradesh 3.5 lakh.

The only bright spots are Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, which have shown a dip in the poverty scale.

Both Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh are afflicted with less poverty in 2009-10 than in 2004-05.

While Tripura has recorded a dip of about 23 per cent, in Arunachal Pradesh it was a six per cent fall.

Nagaland, on the other hand, has registered a rise of over 12 per cent in poverty followed closely by Manipur at 9.2 per cent.

Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya registered increases of 5.7 per cent, 3.5 per cent and one per cent respectively.

The figures were arrived at by using the Tendulkar methodology. The Planning Commission in December 2005 appointed a committee led by Prof. Suresh D. Tendulkar, then member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council and later chairman of the National Statistical Commission to review alternate concepts of poverty and recommend changes in the existing procedures of official estimation of poverty.

Rakibul Hussain, Assam government spokesman and minister for panchayat and rural development, which conducts BPL survey in the state, said it was too early to comment on the report.

“It is not about increasing or decreasing figures, our concern is that no genuine BPL family should be left out. As on day, we follow the 2002 census which puts the figure at 18.78 lakh households, which roughly translates into 34 per cent of the total households in the state,” Hussain told The Telegraph this evening. Hussain, however, said Assam has reservations on the Tendulkar methodology and this was formally conveyed to Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh.

“He has by and large agreed to our reservations when he visited Assam recently,” Hussain said.

According to 2011 census, Assam’s population is 3,11,69,272 as against 2,66,00,000 in the 2001 census.

The Tendulkar Committee for the first time recommended use of implicit prices derived from quantity and value data collected in household consumer expenditure surveys for computing and updating the poverty lines.

The committee developed the methodology using implicit prices for estimating state-wise poverty lines for the year 2004-05.

Using these poverty lines and distribution of monthly per capita consumption expenditure based on mixed reference period, the committee estimated poverty ratios for the year 2004-05.

In its report, he committee recommended a methodology for updating the 2004-05 poverty line data derived by it, according to a press release.

Accordingly, implicit price indices (Fisher price index) have been computed from the 66th Round NSS (2009-10) data on household consumer expenditure survey.

According to the Tendulkar Committee recommendations, the state-wise urban poverty lines of 2004-05 are updated for 2009-10 based on price rise during this period using Fisher price indices.

The state-wise rural-urban price differential in 2009-10 has been applied on state-specific urban poverty lines to get state specific rural poverty lines.

The population as on March 1, 2010, has been used for estimating the number of persons below poverty line (interpolated between 2001 and 2011 population census).

The headcount ratio is obtained using urban and rural poverty lines which are applied on the MPCE distribution of the states.

The aggregated BPL population of the states is used to obtain the final all-India HCR and poverty lines in rural and urban areas.

In rural areas, the HCR for Muslims is very high in states such as Assam (53.6 per cent).