August 10, 2013 2:45:53 am
To speed up the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) and ensure data accuracy,the Ministry of Rural Development has written to state governments to strengthen mechanisms.
The census,which was to be completed by December 2011,will form the basis for welfare- and entitlement-based schemes,including Food Security. The ministry now hopes to complete the process by October 2013. In a July 30 letter,it said,SECC data is meant for multiple users over an extended period and a high degree of accuracy is essential. Validation through disclosure and feedback has to be of an acceptable standard to ensure credibility of data. States/ UTs may make an assessment of the volume of claims and objections and strengthen official mechanisms by deploying sufficient number of officials.
The ministry has also set a procedure and schedule to be followed before the data is released. Officials,while admitting delays due to administrative and logistical hiccups,maintained it was more important to ensure the process and final results were fool-proof than hurriedly meet deadlines.
They said issues such as frequent changes of guard in the ministry before July 2011,when Jairam Ramesh took charge,and assembly elections delayed the process. However,most administrative problems have been state specific. Since a lot of those conducting the survey are doing it as a second job,they may not be as trained or enthusiastic. However,the delays are true to any census, said a ministry official.
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Officials said the data was likely to determine entitlements for at least the next ten years and it is crucial there is no exclusion error and deserving are not left out. Activist and economist Reetika Khera said the delays could also be because pressure was off once the fate of Food Security Bill became uncertain.
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