Mumbai: The Centre has postponed the first phase of Census 2021 and updating of the National Population Register until further orders, due to outbreak of coronavirus. These exercises were slated to begin from April 1 in the states and union territories.
The 2021 Census was scheduled to be conducted in two phases – the House Listing and House Census between April and September and the Population Enumeration in February 2021.
Updating of the NPR was scheduled to take place along with the first phase of Census, in all states and Union Territories, except Assam. The NPR is the first step towards creating an all-India National Register of Citizens which would identify undocumented migrants residing in India.
The Centre on December 24 last year had approved Rs 3,941 crore for updating the NPR across the country and Rs 8,754.23 crore for conducting the 2021 Census.
The census and NPR exercise had pitted the BJP led government and the opposition against each other. Most of the NGOs also linked the exercise to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and alleged that it was to target a community in the country. About 13 States and UTs have opposed the updating of the NPR.
Several political parties and NGOs had expressed fear that the CAA followed by a countrywide NRC would benefit non-Muslim communities excluded from the citizens’ register.
On the other hand, the Muslims, who were excluded, would have to prove their citizenship. However, the government had clarified that the CAA and NRC are not linked.