Census unlikely before Lok Sabha polls, citizens to be asked 31 questions

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The decadal census, which was postponed for an indefinite period due to the pandemic, is unlikely to be held before the next Lok Sabha elections that are due in April-May 2024, officials said.

Access to smartphones, Internet, laptops, computers, cars, two-wheelers, main cereal consumed are some of the 31 questions to be asked in the Census, whenever it is held.

The house listing phase of the Census and the exercise to update the National Population Register (NPR) were scheduled to be carried out across the country from April 1 to September 30, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Census operation continues to be on hold and the government has not yet announced a new schedule.

In January, the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India conveyed that the date of freezing of administrative boundaries — creation of new districts or sub-districts — has been extended to June 30, the officials said.

According to the norms, the census can be conducted only three months after (post September 30) freezing of boundary limits of administrative units such as districts, sub-districts, tehsils, taluks and police stations.

Two to three months will also be required to train the entire 30 lakh government employees/teachers across India who will be engaged as enumerators for the census.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission will kick start the process for the next general elections such as revision of voter lists, etc.

From October, there is little room to hold the census exercise as the same set of people are supposed to be engaged both by the Election Commission and the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner, the officials said.

As the priority will be changed, in most likelihood, the census operation will be carried out only after the Lok Sabha elections, they said.

This exercise, whenever it happens, will be the first digital Census, giving citizens an opportunity to self-enumerate.

The NPR has been made compulsory for citizens who want to exercise the right to fill the census form on their own rather than through government enumerators. For this, the census authority has designed a yet-to-be-launched self-enumeration portal.

During the self-enumeration process, Aadhaar or mobile number will be mandatorily collected.

According to the Office of the Registrar General and census Commissioner, 31 questions to be asked to the citizens have been set.

These questions include whether a family has a telephone line, Internet connection, mobile or smartphone, bicycle, scooter or motorcycle or moped, whether it owns a car, jeep or a van.

The citizens will also be asked what cereal they consume in the household, main source of drinking water and lighting, access to toilet and its type, wastewater outlet, availability of bathing facility, availability of kitchen and LPG/PNG connection, main fuel used for cooking, availability of radio, transistor, television, among others.

The citizens will also be asked about the predominant material of floor, wall and roof of the census house, its condition, total number of persons normally residing in the household, whether its head is a woman, if the head belongs to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, number of dwelling rooms exclusively in possession of the household and the number of married couple(s) living in the household, among others. (PTI)

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