The census exercise, originally scheduled to take place in 2021, has been pushed back to 2023-24. In a letter sent to all States and Union Territories on Tuesday, the Office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) extended the administrative boundary freeze deadline until December 31, 2022.
Since the census cannot begin until a few months after the administrative boundaries are frozen, the possibility of a census in 2022 is ruled out. In addition, the census exercise will be preceded by a list of houses. Previously, the deadline for skill changes was kept at June 30.
In March this year, the government had notified some amendments to the census rules to allow citizens to self-enumerate in the census and the National Population Register (NPR). The development had led to speculation that the house registration phase of the census could begin this very year.
In the letter sent to the states, the RGI cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for the extension of the deadline. “Due to the conditions prevailing due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the danger of an increased likelihood of its spread and the concern/involvement of States/UTs to expedite the vaccination campaign against Covid-19 in the country, it would not be possible to start the census work that will follow this year. Moreover, the time period for conducting the census that will follow is not yet decided,” he said.
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In accordance with Rule 8(iv) of the Census Rules 1990, the boundaries of administrative units shall be frozen from the date specified by the Census Commissioner, which shall not be earlier than one year from the date of census reference.
“As such, it has now been decided by the relevant authority to further extend the border freeze date until December 31, 2022,” the letter reads.
Prior to each census, states are required to provide the RGI with information on changes in the number of notified districts, villages, towns and other administrative units such as tehsils, talukas and police stations. For the 2021 Census, the RGI first issued a Jurisdictional Changes Update Notice on December 22, 2017. It then asked states to update the changes by January 31, 2020, on December 31, 2017. 2019 being set as the deadline for the border freeze. for census purposes. The house registration phase of the census was then to be held from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. It was during this period that RGI was also to carry out the enumeration for the NPR, which is the precursor to the preparation of the national register. citizens .
While the NPR and NRC created much controversy in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), with many states openly opposing it, the census deadline was extended indefinitely to early 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country. The deadline was first extended to December 31, 2020, then to March 31, 2021, then to June 30, 2021, then to December 31, 2021 and later to June 30, 2022.
According to provisional data from the RGI, the number of municipalities fell from 640 in 2011 to 736.