NEW DELHI, Aug 30: The first phase of the census and the exercise to update the national population register (NPR), scheduled for this year but deferred due to the coronavirus outbreak, may be delayed by a year as there is no sign of slowdown of the pandemic.
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.
“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 Census-2021 and the 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 house-listing phase of the census and the exercise to update the NPR were scheduled to be carried out across the country from 1 April to 30 September, 2020, but were postponed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“As the entire exercise needs the involvement of lakhs of officials and visit to each family, we can’t undermine the health risk involved in it,” the official said.
According to the earlier schedule, the census would have its reference date as 1 March, 2021, and in the snowbound areas of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it would be 1 October, 2020.
“The Covid-19 threat is still looming large. The census and NPR are not in the priority list of the government as of now,” another official said.
The census is the largest single source of a variety of statistical information on the people of India which helps the government to chalk out various policies. (PTI)