Shimla: To remove bogus claimants for a Below Poverty Line (BPL) family status, the government of Himachal Pradesh got cheeky and has asked such families to henceforth display a BPL signboard outside their house.
Onkar Sharma, principal secretary Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, architect of the new guidelines explains, “neighbours of any household are well aware about the economic status of the neighbourhood.”
“Anybody undeserving availing subsidies targeted at the poor would stand exposed and bring about a social pressure from the community where the ineligible BPL family resides,” says Sharma.
Officials down to the Panchayat level have been instructed to implement the BPL signboard display decision at the earliest.
At having to place the offensive board outside their houses, many have already approached the Panchayati Raj authorities to have their names struck off the BPL families list.
Ritesh Chauhan, district magistrate of Kangra says that a decision was taken at a district grievance committee meeting in September, 2015 that to ensure government schemes targeted for BPL families got to the deserving ones only, names of the family head, along with the BPL number of such a family would be displayed at his/her house.
The decision has begun to show results. In Kangra district alone, 3500 families have come forward to delete their names from the BPL list.
Senior government officials have never been able to explain the oddity about steady rising of per capita income but the number of 2.86 lakh BPL families in a population of 71 lakhs spread over about 14 lakh families just did not match up.
Himachal Pradesh has been lauded by national and international agencies for the strides made in human development indices.
A World Bank Report – Scaling the Heights: Social Inclusion and Sustainable Development in Himachal Pradesh, published in January 2015 had established that “Himachal Pradesh is a frontrunner among Indian states in reducing poverty and improving human development outcomes.”
About poverty in Himachal, the World Bank report states: “headcount is nearly one-third the national average. Rural poverty showed an impressive fourfold decline, falling from 36.8% in 1993–94 to 8.5% in 2011, benefitting all social groups in both rural and urban areas.”