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Delayed due to Covid-19, Census work may begin this year, MHA tells parliamentary panel

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Fieldwork related to housing conditions and amenities for Census 2021, delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, is likely to start this year with the government sharing with a parliamentary panel a broad five-year item-wise distribution of activities related to the decennial exercise.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs, headed by Congress MP Anand Sharma, in its report on the Demands for Grants for the ministry, said as per the broad item-wise and year-wise distribution of activities for the census, the conduct of pre-test for census and National Population Register (NPR) to test-check the mobile app and CMMS portal has been done during 2020-21.

The fieldwork for the first phase of census 2021 will be carried out during 2021-22 even though timelines are yet to be finalised, the government told the panel, as per the report.

During this phase, data on housing conditions, household amenities and assets possessed by the households will be collected.

This phase of the census work was supposed to be carried out from April 2020 to September 2020 but it could not be done due to the pandemic.

As per the revised schedule, fieldwork for the population enumeration phase of the census will be carried out in 2022-23 even though no timelines has been fixed yet.

The population enumeration was supposed to be carried out from February 9 to 28, 2021 with a revision round from March 1 to 5, 2021. This crucial part of the census was also could not be carried due to the pandemic.

During 2022-23, census work on demography, religion, SC and ST population, language, literacy and education, economic activity, migration and fertility will also be carried out.

In 2023-24, results of the provisional census data, primary census abstracts (PCA) providing village-level data on important indicators will be released.

In 2024-25, census tables (more than 250 data tables), dissemination of census data customised visualisation tool will be released, besides carrying out other census-related activities.

The committee, during its meeting, sought to know from the Ministry of Home Affairs about the reasons for the drastic decrease in allocation from Rs.4,568.00 crore in Budget Estimate (BE) 2020-21 to 3,768.28 crore in BE 2021-22.

The MHA replied that the funds under BE 2020-21 were kept for various activities of the ensuing decennial census 2021 to be conducted in two phases.

The first phase from house listing and housing census from April 2020 to September 2020 and the second phase namely population enumeration from February 9 to 28, 2021 with a revision round from March 1 to 5, 2021.

The National Population Register (NPR) was also to be updated along with the first phase of the census.

The Union Cabinet has approved 8,754.23 crore for the conduct of the census and 3,941.35 crore for updating of the NPR.

The funds kept would be incurred towards various census preparatory activities like training to 30 lakh field functionaries, the printing of census and NPR material, assistance to States in terms of Technical Manpower.

However, due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the first phase of census, update of the NPR and other related field activities have been postponed and accordingly, the allocation for 2020-21 was reduced to 755.00 crore at Revised Estimate (RE) stage, the report said.

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