The Union Budget 2023–2024, which was unveiled in front of the Parliament on Wednesday by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, included a total of 1,564 crores as funding for the Census of 2021 and associated activities. It is a portion of the ministry of home affairs overall budgetary allotment of 1.96 lakh crore (MHA).
In comparison to the current fiscal year’s revised budget, which is $552.65 crore, the current allocation is three times higher. The initial budget estimate for the Census exercise was 3,676 crore, but it was later revised.
According to the budget document, the most recent budgetary allocation of Rs. 1,564.65 crore for the Census, Survey, and Statistics/Registrar General of India (RGI) “…includes provisions for the office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India and various schemes of RGI, including National Population Register.”
The Center has asserted time and time again that the Covid-19 pandemic was to blame for the delay in the decennial exercise.
Due to the pandemic, the decennial exercise was initially postponed from December 31, 2020, to December 21, 2021, and then for an additional six months each until December 2022. The 16th Indian Census, which was scheduled for 2021, has now been delayed until at least October 2023.
According to local conditions and other priorities, the fieldwork for the Housing Census, the first stage of Census 2021, and the updating of the NPR were originally scheduled to last 45 days from April 2020 to September 2020 in various states and union territories. Following the house listing, the population count was scheduled to take place between February and April.
The population enumeration was scheduled to take place between February 9 and February 28, 2021, following the house listing.
RGI informed all the states and union territories in a letter sent last month that the deadline for changing administrative boundaries had been extended until the end of June 2023. According to RGI’s letter to the states and UTs, the administrative jurisdictional borders will be frozen on June 30.
The states and union territories are not permitted to alter the boundaries of districts, towns, villages, or tehsils during a Census operation, including both the house-listing phase and the population enumeration.
The process for the Census of 2021 was effectively delayed until September of this year because the regulations state that the exercise can only start three months after the freezing of administrative boundaries.
This is the last budget that the government of Prime Minister Modi will present before the 2024 general elections, and Sitharam has now announced five consecutive ones.
On Wednesday, PM Modi praised the Union Budget 2023, saying that it would lay a solid foundation for creating a developed India. In his speech, he claimed that this budget would “fulfil the aspirations of an aspirational society, including the poor, the middle class, and farmers.”