The government is likely to postpone the 2021 census till next year due to the ongoing covid-19 situation in the country, a government official said according to reports.
“Our hands are full dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic,” an official was quoted as saying by The Hindu adding that the government is preoccupied in taking measures to control the pandemic and the ongoing vaccine roll-out.
The central government had issued a notification last year stating that the first phase of the House Listing & Housing Census and the National Population Register (NPR) updation exercise will be completed under April 1 to September 30, 2020. This was to be followed by a second phase which comprises of Population Enumeration from February 9 to February 28, 2021. However, the first phase itself was postponed due to the pandemic.
Officials had termed the Census as a non-essential exercise as the government was struggling to tackle huge surge in covid-19 cases in the country. "Census is not an essential exercise for now. Even if it is delayed by a year, there would be no harm," a senior official told PTI. The official said no final decision has been taken on when the first phase of the Census 2021 and NPR update would take place, but it is almost certain that it would not be held in 2020 due to the rising cases of the coronavirus.
The Indian census is one of the largest administrative and statistical exercises in the world, with the involvement of more than 30 lakh officials who would visit each household across the length and breadth of the country. The government had said the exercise would undermine the health risk of lakhs of officials involved in the data collection exercise.
The 2021 census grabbed eyeballs as the government had announced in 2019 that it intents to update NPR between April 1 and September 30, 2020 in all states/UT's excepts Assam. This was in view of the large demonstrations held across India against the National Register of Citizens and the Citizenship Amendment Act. The parliament approved the CAA in December 2019.
The NPR is a register of the usual residents of the country. It is prepared at the local (village and sub-town), subdistrict, district, state and national levels under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003. The data for NPR was last collected in 2010 along with the house listing phase of the Census 2011. Updating of this data was done during 2015 by conducting a door-to-door survey.
(with inputs from PTI)