According to data furnished by the Planning Commission, the Kashmir region has 2.13 lakh households living below the poverty line. Out of these, around 1.89 lakh households are in rural and twenty-four thousand in urban areas. The Jammu region has an estimated 1.92 lakh BPL households – 1.72 lakh in rural and twenty thousand in urban areas. In Ladakh, the percentage is 28.07 in rural and 8.36 percent in urban areas. North Kashmir’s Kupwara district has the highest number – 0.409 lakh – of BPL households while the Jammu district stands at number with 0.375 lakh households below the poverty line. The Baramulla district, again in north Kashmir, comes next with its 0.362 lakh BPL households. The Samba district in the Jammu region has 0.078 lakh families living in poverty.
Data emerging from almost all states across India shows appreciable decline in poverty rates, Jammu and Kashmir being among the only two states with dismal performance in alleviation programmes. The Union Territories of Chandigarh, Pondicherry, Andaman and Nicobar (A&N) Islands and Dadar and Nagar Haveli present similar scenarios, according to the Planning Commission data.
Jammu and Kashmir’s poverty rate has actually been shown to have risen from 9.4 per cent in 2009-10 to 10.35 per cent in 2011-12, mainly due to an increase in the number of BPL households in rural areas from 8.1 per cent to 11.5 per cent. The Planning Commission report indicates that Jammu and Kashmir has around 13.27 lakh people living below the poverty line. “The state has 10.73 lakh population falling under BPL category in rural areas and another 2.53 lakh such people living in urban pockets,” the report reads.
Since the state’s own Economic Survey had put about one-fifth of its population below the poverty line as far back as 2010, saying that 98 per cent of the officially-designated poor lived in rural areas, the fresh upward swing in poverty rates must make the government conduct a reappraisal of its implementation machinery and find out why Jammu and Kashmir has not performed as well as most states in India.