India – Number of urban poor to rise by 11% in Maharashtra
Mumbai: The downturn and price rise seem to be pushing more people towards poverty in urban areas, especially in Maharashtra, compared to the last financial year. The number of urban poor in the state is expected to go up from 1.31 crore to 1.46 crore by March-end next year, a rise of nearly 15 lakh, or 11.3%, in 2009-10, according to estimates of the Union ministry of housing and urban poverty alleviation.
The rise in urban poverty in the state was negligible in the 2008-09 fiscal compared to 2007-08, according to the ministry’s estimates.
Home to the highest number of urban poor, the state is followed by Uttar Pradesh (1.17 crore), Madhya Pradesh (74.03 lakh), and Tamil Nadu (69.13 lakh). The ministry has projected an 18% growth in urban poverty across India in 2009-10.
The estimates were recently published along with details of funds to be tentatively allocated to the urban poor for self-employment and vocational training.
The estimates have been released at a time when funds to the state for alleviating poverty are being reduced.
Funds under the Swarna Jayanti Shahari Rozgaar Yojna are expected to come down by 10% — the state has been allocated Rs80.75 crore this year.
According to state officials, a majority of urban poor in Maharashtra live in Mumbai. In a recent door-to-door survey conducted by the civic body, more than 10 lakh families in the city had claimed to be living below the poverty line (BPL).
City-based slum activist Simpreet Singh said recession and price rise may have hit those on the brink of poverty. “There are linkages between the formal and the informal sector. The lull in the construction industry, for instance, has hit the livelihood of construction workers, carpenters and electricians,” he said. Price rise has only compounded their woes, putting pressure on their reserves, he said.
Neeraj Hatekar, professor of economics at the Mumbai University, said the unorganised urban sector is the biggest contributor to the poverty pocket. “We lack a system where the urban poor can work themselves out of poverty. The delivery mechanism for poverty alleviation schemes needs to be upgraded,” he said.
Source: DNA India, Aug. 26, 2009