Maharashtra's image as a progressive state has taken a beating with recent figures rating it third amongst major states, after Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, as regards the population below poverty line.
An Economic survey released by the state government said the poverty estimates provided by the Planning Commission reveal poverty ratio in the state is 30.7 per cent, 3.2 per cent more than the all-India (27.5 per cent) figure.
"Maharashtra had 3.17 crore (31.7 million) persons below poverty line after Uttar Pradesh (5.90 crore or 59 million) and Bihar (3.69 crore or 36.9 million) in
2004-05," the survey said.
Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal had the same level of poverty figures during 1993-94, but during 2004-05, poverty ratios of these states are much less than that of Maharashtra, it said.
However, in absolute terms, the population below poverty line in the state increased by 12.2 lakh (1.22 million) during the same period. This increase was mainly observed in urban areas.
"In 1997, 34.6 per cent of population was BPL in rural areas which later became 35.8 per cent in 2002. In 1997, the urban BPL population was 8.8 per cent, which rose to 13.9 per cent in 2002," it said.