The 2021 Census count has been postponed until 2024-25, pending additional instructions. The Registrar General of India (RGI) has extended the deadline for freezing administrative boundaries to June 30, 2023, according to the letter given to all states and Union Territories last month.
Due to the fact that the Census enumeration cannot begin until a few months after administrative boundaries are set and that general elections are slated for early the next year, a Census in 2023 is not possible. In addition, the Census count will be preceded by a house-listing count in areas where the National Population Register (NPR) activity will be conducted.
Previously, the deadline for jurisdictional changes was June 30, 2022, and then December 31, 2022.
In March of last year, the government announced changes to the Census Rules to permit self-enumeration in the Census and National Population Register (NPR). The development prompted concern that the house-listing portion of the Census could have begun as early as the previous year.
The RGI has highlighted Covid-19 as the basis for the deadline extension in their letter. Since 2020, the same justification has been used for numerous similar dates.
“Due to the prevailing conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the increased likelihood of its spread, and the preoccupation/involvement of the States/UTs in accelerating the vaccination drive against COVID-19 in the country, it would not be possible to begin the work of the upcoming Census this year. In addition, the timeframe for performing the subsequent census has not yet been determined,” the letter for the previous deadline extension stated.
According to Rule 8(iv) of the Census Rules of 1990, the administrative unit boundaries shall be frozen from the date communicated by the Census Commissioner, which shall not be earlier than one year prior to the Census reference date.
“Accordingly, the competent authorities has decided to further prolong the date of boundary freezing until December 31, 2022. The administrative unit borders for the upcoming Census will be fixed on December 31, 2022, according to the letter.
Before each Census, states must notify the RGI of any changes in the number of notified districts, villages, towns, and other administrative entities such as tehsils, talukas, and police stations since the previous Census. The boundaries of administrative units are set in stone three months prior to the start of the Census. During this time, the data is compiled and given with RGI, which begins its Census preparations.
The RGI issued its first jurisdictional change update notification for the 2021 Census on December 22, 2017. It then requested that the states update the adjustments by January 31, 2020, with December 31, 2019 as the deadline for freezing boundaries for Census purposes. The house-listing phase of the 2020 Census was originally intended to take place between April 1 and September 30, 2020. During this time, RGI was also scheduled to undertake the NPR enumeration, a prelude to the development of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
While both NPR and NRC have generated considerable controversy in the wake of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), with many states publicly rejecting them, the deadline for Census enumeration was postponed indefinitely in early 2020 due to the outbreak of Covivirus 19. Notably, the date for updating changes in jurisdiction has been repeatedly extended.
The deadline has been extended to December 31, 2020, March 31, 2021, June 30, 2021, December 31, 2021, June 30, 2022, and December 31, 2022.
According to preliminary RGI data, the number of districts in the country has increased from 640 in 2011 to 736 at now.