Census, NPR set to be delayed by a year
The Covid-19 outbreak has left the government with no option but to defer the completion date for conducting the first phase of the Census-2021 and the exercise to update the National Population Register (NPR). Sources said the first phase of both exercises was scheduled to be over by September 30, but now, it might be delayed by a year.
They said though a final decision on new dates had not been taken yet, it was for certain that these could not be undertaken in 2020 in view of the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
A senior Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official, however, said: “At present, the government’s priority is not Census. The entire machinery is involved in containing the pandemic. The delay by even a year in conducting Census and NPR would not have any adverse impact.”
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 visit each household across the length and breadth of the country.
The house-listing phase of the Census and the exercise to update NPR was scheduled to be carried out across the country from April 1 to September 30, 2020, but was postponed due to the pandemic.
As per the original plan, the Census had its reference date as March 1, 2021, and in the snow-bound areas of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it was October 1, 2020.
In March, when the lockdown was announced, the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India was all set for the first phase of the twin exercises. Even though some state governments opposed the NPR update, all offered full support to the Census.