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Telangana shuts down for a headcount

August 19, 2014 08:36 IST

Life in Telangana is likely to come to a standstill on Tuesday, thanks to the state government's Intensive Household Survey. Not just the state-owned public transport buses, even private vehicles, will remain off the roads.

The government has declared a public holiday on Tuesday. Besides government offices, cinema halls, malls, banks, hotels, fuel stations, other commercial establishments and industrial units will remain closed. Even publishers of various newspapers have given a holiday to their administrative staff.

The survey caused much buzz in the past fortnight and all those who were away started rushing back to their native places from district headquarters, state capital and far off places like Surat, Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Consequently, all the buses and trains, which were either passing through or heading towards various destinations in the new state, had been running packed to capacity in the past few days.

Meanwhile, the entire government machinery is geared up for IHS. The first of its kind survey aims to enumerate all 86,85,000 households in the state on a single day.

The survey aims to enumerate about nine million households in the entire state on a single day.

According to the government's Principal Secretary (Planning) B P Acharya, as many as 375,000 staffers will collect the data. Each will be asked to enumerate 20-25 households.

The proposed survey has, however, already caused panic among a section.

They're worried at the intention, though Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao has repeatedly asserted that this day-long survey, first of its kind in the country, was aimed at only extending government benefits to genuine beneficiaries.

A public interest suit was filed in the high court here, seeking a stay on the survey.

The state government explained that the proposed IHS was a voluntary one and people could choose not to answer the questions.
Following this, the court declined to stay it.

Earlier, there had been indications that taking part was mandatory and all the members of a family should be present.

Consequently, people of Telangana residing in other states made a beeline to their native places.

Reports from Surat, Mumbai, Chennai and other places said buses and trains to Telangana were packed with passengers belonging to the region.

Subsequently, the government officials clarified that all members of a household need not be present -- the head of the family could give the details.

The scope is comprehensive. It seeks to secure a wide range of information, including details of property tax, water tax, bank account, cooking gas connection, Aadhaar card, birth certificate, phone bill, PAN (income tax) card and properties held, among other things.

Many people have been worried about divulging all this.

For them, the government's assurance to the court that they need not reveal the details if they choose was a relief. As the state government declared a holiday, several companies have decided to suspend their operations on Tuesday.

A top official of Aurobindo Pharma, for instance, told Business Standard they'd declared a paid holiday on Tuesday.

"Even though we have a eight-hour shift system, we have declared a holiday. Like in the case of a Sunday, we will maintain skeletal staff on Tuesday to attend to emergency cases" said B Bhankar Rao, managing director (MD) of Krishna Institute of Medical Sciences.