Covid-19 hits preparations for census

Training work, being overseen by the BBMP, has been postponed

The Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions put in place have affected census training work. The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which was overseeing the task, has put off further training until the end of the month.

Officials say that this could imply postponement of the eighth population census, along with the controversial National Population Register (NPR), that was to have begun in April.

According to Mangaldas, BBMP’s Joint Director (Statistics), the training for field trainers to be deputed in four zones has been put off. The training for officials in four other zones was completed recently.

“The census work requires deputation of a large number of officials, including field trainers, master trainers and charge officers, at the ward level. That apart, we will also require up to 20,000 enumerators. We are yet to begin the appointment of enumerators,” he said and added that there has been some apprehension from teachers, who are most likely to be appointed as enumerators, due to the novel corona virus scare.

Teachers’ associations are adopting a wait-and-watch policy. “We will wait until the end of the month. If the situation doesn’t show any sign of improvement by then, we will urge the government to put off census work until it does,” said Basavaraj Gurikar, vice president of All India Teachers’ Federation.

‘Cannot spare health officials’

Meanwhile, a BBMP official, who spoke to The Hindu on condition of anonymity, said that some health officials were also deputed for census work. “Given the spread of the pandemic, we need all hands on deck. We cannot allow health officials to be deputed for census work when the number of people affected by the virulent virus is increasing by the day,” the official stated.

The first phase of the census was to include house listing. The same was to begin on April 15 and end by May 29. Enumerators would be required to visit households in the city twice, i.e. once for house listing and then again for population census.

BBMP Commissioner B.H. Anil Kumar told The Hindu that since large gatherings had been prohibited in view of the spread of Covid-19, further training to the census staff could be held via video conferencing.

Admitting that there has been no instruction or direction on census activity from the Ministry of Home Affairs, Keshya Naik, Deputy Director (Census Operations), Karnataka, said given the situation in the State, the decision to put off census training has been taken locally. “Training sessions were held until last week. We are keeping the MHA informed about the status and situation in the State,” he said.

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