Rs35K annual income cap for BPL card unrealistic, say councillors

Subhash Rajta

Tribune News Service

Shimla, December 15

Councillors fear that not many households will be eligible for the Below Poverty Line (BPL) cards in the ongoing drive of the Shimla Municipal Corporation to issue new cards and renew the old ones.

Citing the criteria of an annual income less than Rs 35,000 as a major hurdle for any household to make the BPL cut, the councillors feel the income limit is absurd and unrealistic, especially in the urban areas these days. "Even a daily wager earns around Rs 500 per day in Shimla. He will end up earning Rs 10,000 if he gets work for 20 days in a month. That way, he will earn Rs 10,000 in a month and Rs 1.20 lakh in a year," said Rakesh Sharma, a councillor from Panthaghati.

"And if there's any other earning member in the family, the income will rise further. So, it's difficult to see many households fulfilling this criteria," he said.

In fact, the House has already passed a resolution for the revision and enhancement of the income limit to a reasonable amount. "The unrealistic financial limit would deprive many genuine families of the benefits of the BPL facilities. The income bracket has not been revised for a long time and the cost of living has increased manifold in urban areas over the last decade. It's high time the criteria was revised to a reasonable amount," said Nabha councillor Simi Nanda, who had brought the resolution to revise the economic threshold.

"Besides, the condition like the BPL households should not own goods like TV and fridge is flawed. Many people give away used consumer goods to their domestic helps. Will it be justified to deprive such people of the BPL benefits?" Nanda asked.

Shelly Sharma, a councillor from Summer Hill, said such an unrealistic income limit suggested the government probably didn't want to offer BPL benefits to the urban poor anymore. "I held a meeting to make new BPL cards in my ward a couple of days ago. I have just received 3-4 new applications and I am not expecting more," she said.

However, in Totu ward, councillor Vivek Sharma has received over 40 applications. "We are taking the affidavits submitted by households at face value. Councillors have no way to check their veracity," he said when asked if all applicants fulfilled the income condition.

Courtesy: Tribune News Service

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