The exercise to carry out the decennial census has been further postponed -- at least till September 30, officials said.
The housing listing phase of the census and the exercise to update the National Population Register were scheduled to be carried out across the country from April 1 to September 30, 2020, but were postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In a communication to all states, the Office of the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India conveyed that the date of freezing of administrative boundaries has been extended till June 30.
According to norms, census can be conducted only three months after the freezing of boundary limits of administrative units such as districts, sub-districts, tehsils, talukas and police stations.
In its letter, the census authorities, while referring to an earlier communication to extend the date of freezing of boundaries up to December 31 in 2020, said it has now been decided by the competent authority to further extend the date of freezing of boundaries.
The boundaries of the administrative units for the ensuing census will now be freezed with effect from July 1, 2023. The finalisation of boundaries of administrative units entails covering all jurisdictional changes between two consecutive censuses.
The communication said the state governments can give effect to the changes in administrative boundaries, if any, latest by June 30, 2023, and send copies of notifications on jurisdictional changes to the Directorate of Census Operations in the state or Union Territory concerned with an endorsement to the census authorities in Delhi.
The freeze on administrative boundaries was effective from January 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Later, the census authorities said that since the Census 2021 had been postponed until further orders and several requests were received from states for permission to create new units, the date of freezing of boundaries was extended till December 31, 2020.
It was then extended twice -- till December 31, 2021, and again till December 31, 2022.
According to the earlier schedule, the census would have its reference date as March 1, 2021, and in the snow-bound Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, it would have been October 1, 2020.
The census operation continues to be on hold and the government has not yet announced the new schedule.