Updated: January 4, 2022 8:48:41 am
EVEN AS Census enumeration remains postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic, the Centre has extended the deadline for jurisdictional changes for all states up to June 30, 2022. Earlier, the deadline was December 31, 2021.
According to sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the functioning of Registrar General of India, this was done on the request of the states as they have not been able to update the jurisdictional changes for various reasons.
Before every Census, states are required to provide information on changes in the number of notified districts, villages, towns and other administrative units such as tehsils, talukas and police stations in a state since the last Census a decade ago to the RGI. The boundaries of administrative units are frozen three months before commencement of Census. In this period, the data is compiled and shared with RGI which begins its preparatory work for the Census.
For the 2021 Census, the RGI had first issued a jurisdictional change updation notice on December 22, 2017. It had then asked the states to update the changes by January 31, 2020 with December 31, 2019 being fixed as the deadline for freezing of boundaries for the purpose of the Census. The Houselisting phase of the Census had then been scheduled to start from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. It was during this period that the RGI was also supposed to conduct the enumeration for National Population Register (NPR), which is precursor to the preparation of National Register of Citizens (NRC).
While both the NPR and NRC have created much controversy in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), with many states openly opposing them, the deadline for Census enumeration was indefinitely postponed in early 2020 due to the outbreak of Covid-19. Notably, the deadline for updation of jurisdictional changes has also been extended multiple times.
On July 28, 2020, RGI wrote to states, “…after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the field work of phase-I of Census 2021 and the other related field activities were postponed until further orders. Subsequent to the postponement of Census activities, requests were received from several State/ Union Territory Governments seeking clarifications/ permission for creation/extension /up-gradation of different administrative units.”
“Hence, it was decided to extend the date of freezing of boundaries up to 31st December, 2020 for the ensuing Census 2021 and the boundaries of the administrative units will be frozen on 31st December, 2020. If any changes in the administrative boundaries may be effected latest by 31-12-2020 and no changes will be effected after 31-12-2020 to till the Census is over.”
Later, however, this deadline was further extended with even a new date for freezing of boundaries being fixed at March 31, 2021. Now the deadline for freezing of boundaries has been extended till June 30.
According to provisional data available with the RGI, number of districts in the country have gone up from 640 in 2011 to 736.