The Census enumeration, originally scheduled for 2021, has been postponed to 2024-25 until further notice.
The office of the Registrar General of India (RGI) has extended the deadline for freezing administrative boundaries to 1 January 2024, as stated in a letter sent to all states and Union territories last month.
Due to the need for administrative boundaries to be frozen before the Census enumeration can begin, and with general elections planned for early next year, a Census in 2023 is no longer possible.
Prior to the Census enumeration, a house-listing enumeration has to be conducted for the National Population Register (NPR).
Previously, the deadline for jurisdictional changes was set for 30 June 2023, and before that, 31 December 2022.
The budget allocation for the Census 2021 has been reduced from Rs 3,676 crore in the previous budget to Rs 1,564 crore in the current budget.
The allocated budget of Rs 1.96 crore from the Union Budget for 2023-24 includes provisions for the office of the RGI and Census Commissioner of India, as well as various schemes of the RGI, including the NPR and expenditure on the Census 2021.
The government is planning to introduce a bill in Parliament to link birth and death data with electoral rolls and the overall development process, according to Home Minister Amit Shah.
Shah emphasised the importance of a comprehensive and accurate census, stating that it can serve as the foundation for the development agenda.
By basing planning on census data, development can be ensured for even the poorest of the poor, he said.
"Under this process, when a person turns 18, his or her name will be automatically included in the electoral rolls. Similarly, when a person dies, that information automatically will go to the Election Commission, which will start the process of deleting the name from the voters’ list. Earlier, the development process happened in fragments, because adequate data for development was not available,” Shah said in May.
Last year, the government made amendments to Census Rules, allowing citizens to self-enumerate in the Census and NPR. This development sparked speculation that the house-listing phase of the Census would begin in the same year.
The RGI cited the Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for extending the deadline. This has been the justification for multiple deadline extensions since 2020.
According to Rule 8(iv) of the Census Rules, 1990, the boundaries of the administrative units will be fixed from a date provided by the Census Commissioner. This date will be no earlier than one year from the Census reference date.
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