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India Planning Commission Toilet Renovation Causes Controversy

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In this photo taken on Feb. 22, 2012, Indian squatters use a public toilet after waking up at Park No. 2 near Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)
In this photo taken on Feb. 22, 2012, Indian squatters use a public toilet after waking up at Park No. 2 near Jama Masjid in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

NEW DELHI -- An Indian government agency is being criticized for spending $63,000 to renovate its toilets just months after setting the national poverty line far below global standards.

The admission sparked a public uproar with newspapers and some lawmakers demanding an explanation.

The Planning Commission tried Thursday to mitigate the outrage by saying the three restrooms could service up to 30 people at once. The cost included a $9,000 security card system to limit access. The decor of the rooms hasn't been described.

India has 450 million people living below its poverty level of less than 50 cents a day. The World Bank's poverty line is $1.25 a day.

The lower standard means India counts fewer people as poor enough to qualify for government assistance.

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