Cabinet clears proposal for conducting census 2021 at cost of Rs 8,754.23cr.
New Delhi: Soon after the Union Cabinet on Tuesday approved over Rs 3,941.35 crore for updating the National Population Register (NPR) for the 2021 census, the Centre, on the back foot in the face of nation-wide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the possible implementation of National Register for Citizens (NRC), vehemently denied any effort on its part to initiate the process of NRC through the updation of the NPR.
The government’s denial came in the face of political parties like the Trinamul Congress and the CPI(M) alleging that the government is trying to sneak in NRC through NPR.
Later, home minister Amit Shah denied any such move and the home ministry even issued an explanatory note describing in detail what the NPR and the census exercise is.
The Cabinet also cleared the proposal for conducting census 2021 at a cost of Rs 8,754.23 crore.
Minister for information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar said at a press conference after the Cabinet meeting that the NPR exercise was initiated by the UPA government in 2010 for the 2011 census work, and the Centre is only replicating it for the 2021 census.
He described speculation that in the garb of NPR, the NRC could be initiated through the back door as “baseless and malicious”, while replying to a barrage of questions from media persons seeking to know the facts.
Later in the day the government even issued an “explanatory note” clearly defining NPR and the census exercise and Mr Shah said that NPR data cannot be used for NRC.
Earlier, official sources had quoted the census funds figure as that of the NPR. The updating exercise is to commence from April next year.
The NPR is a list of “usual residents” of the country. A “usual resident” is defined for the purposes of NPR as a person who has resided in a local area for the past six months or more or a person who intends to reside in that area for the next six months or more, the “explanatory” note released by the government said.
The data for NPR was collected in 2010 along with the house-listing phase of Census of India 2011. The data was updated in 2015 by conducting door-to-door survey. The digitisation of the updated information has been completed.
Now it has been decided to update the National Population Register along with the house-listing phase of Census 2021 from April to September 2020 in all the states/Union Territories except Assam, according to the website of the office of the registrar general, and census commissioner, the explanatory note said.
A gazette notification to this effect was issued in August this year.
The NPR will be prepared at the local (village/sub-town), sub-district, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
It is mandatory for every “usual resident” of India to register in the NPR.
The objective of the NPR is to create a comprehensive identity database of every usual resident in the country. The database would contain demographic as well as biometric particulars.
The government has introduced an “app” for NPR under which the entire process would be conducted without any documentation or paperwork. However, its usage is not mandatory, Mr Javadekar said.
Describing the census exercise, the note said that the decennial census is the single largest source of a variety of statistical information on different characteristics of the people of India conducted on the basis of the Census Act enacted in 1948.
Census 2021 will be done in two phases. In the first phase, the work of house-listing or housing census will be conducted from April to September, 2020. In the second phase, the enumeration of population will be done from February 9 to February 28, 2021, with reference moment as 00:00 hours of March 1, 2021.
For snow-bound areas in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, the reference date will be October 1, 2020.
The census is the basis for reviewing the country’s progress in the past decade, monitoring the ongoing schemes of the government and plan for the future.
The census provides detailed and authentic information on demography, economic activity, literacy and education, housing and household amenities, urbanisation, fertility and mortality, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, language, religion, migration, disability besides others.
The enumerators also collect data related to cultivators and agricultural labourers, their gender, occupational classification of workers in non-households industry, trade, business, profession or service by class of worker and sex.
There will be detailed survey on gender and literacy rate, number of towns, slum households and their population.
Information is also collected on sources of potable water, energy, irrigation, method of farming, whether a house is concrete, thatched or others.
With a history of more than 130 years, this reliable, time-tested exercise has been bringing out a veritable wealth of statistics every 10 years, beginning from 1872 when the first census was conducted in India non-synchronously in different parts.
The Government of India decided in May 1949 to initiate steps for developing systematic collection of statistics on the size of population, its growth etc., and established an organisation in the ministry of home affairs, under Registrar General and ex-Officio Census Commissioner, India.
This organisation was made responsible for generating data on population statistics, including vital statistics and census. Later, this office was also entrusted with the responsibility of implementation of Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969 in the country.