October 28, 2008

West Bengal government tells Panchayets to submit specific plan for upliftment of rural poor by December

Kolkata,28th Oct: Setting a bright example of planning for the upliftment of the rural poor of the state by their own grassroot representative’s the West Bengal state government has recently decided to engage the gram panchayet’s to prepare a comprehensive list of the poorest of the poors residing in the rural area’s of West Bengal.
A detailed survey will be carried out by the panchayets and a report will be submitted to the government within a month. The parameters for this survey will be send to the Panchayet within 3rd Nov. All these important decisions were taken at a high level meeting conducted on video conferencing mode from the writer’s building in Kolkata and were attended by all the pradhans of the Gram Panchayet’s of the state. Al the block offices of the state acted as makeshift conference nodes. The meeting was attended by the state’s Panchayet and rural development minister Suryakanta Mishra & Bankim Ghosh, minister for state for Panchayet affairs. The secretaries of the concerned departments and the Sabadhipati’s of the Zilla Parishads were also present.
This move of the government is being aimed at upliftment of the rural poor by implementing the various schemes that the state government has taken. To maintain clarity and transparency, the government has directed that all the lists depicting the rural poor should be in display in the respective Panchayet offices.Mentionable here that a project called Sahay has been initiated by the state government to provide the poorest of the poor with food. Now the ambit of this project will be increased as there is scope within the Panchayet system to provide the marginal part of the rural population with shelters also. Out of the total 1 crore 33 lakhs 90533 households of the state approximately, 3.58% of them falls under the bracket of those who cannot manage a full square meal a day.
Another 11.54% of the state’s population comprises of households whose family income does not guarantee them with two square meals a day. 15% of the population does not have a permanent shelter over their head. Though broadly speaking all this statistics indicates that the condition of the rural poor has been developed manifolds after the ruling Left Front government came to power,.In 1977 in west Bengal more than60% people were living under poverty line .The state government is now planning for a quick uplift for the remnant of the poor of the state.
Noted Economist Abhijit Sen based on the studies of the Expert Group on the Estimation of Proportion and the Number of Poor (EGEPNP), Planning Commission had showed that the head count incidence of poverty in West Bengal declined by over 31 percentage points between 1977-78 and 1989-90, as against a decline of 18.7 percentage points in all India and this was among the largest decline in poverty in any Indian state. Tendulkar and Jain (1995) also reached the same conclusion from NSS data of different rounds.
According to another estimate (Report of the National Commission of Rural Labour, Ministry of Labour, Government of India, 1991) the percentage of rural population in poverty declined from 64 in 1972-73 to 30.3 in 1987-88 in West Bengal, whereas in all India level the decline was from 54.0 to 33.4. The rate of decline was (-) 2.25 percent per annum for West Bengal against (-) 1.37 percent per annum for all India. Now it has dropped even further to24 % approx in 2004-5 according to planning commission data.
West Bengal also stands in the forefront in the rate of declinement of poverty. Noted economist Amartya Sen has also praised this achievement of the West Bengal Government in this regard. Now this move of the West Bengal Government by empowering the panchayets in preparing the list of poorest of the poor will be a new step in that direction.
by Sandip Chakraborty

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