The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday said that the updating of the National Population Register (NPR) and the first phase of the Census 2021 have been postponed due to the 21-day lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Both the exercises were supposed to be carried out from April 1 to September 30.
In a statement, the MHA said the Census 2021 was scheduled to be conducted in two phases— house listing and housing census during April-September, 2020 and population enumeration from February 9 to 28, 2021. The updating of NPR was also proposed to be done along with the Phase I of Census 2021 in all the states and union territories, except Assam.
The home ministry further said a high alert has been declared by the Centre as well as the States and Union territories in the wake of COVID-19 and that the lockdown has been placed across the country. “Keeping in view the above, the first phase of Census 2021 and the updation of NPR, which was to begin on various dates decided by the State/UT governments beginning 1st April 2020 and various related field activities, are postponed until further orders,” the MHA said.
Last week, the Home Ministry had said that preparation for Census 2021 and updation of the NPR were at its peak and would begin as scheduled. President Ram Nath Kovind was supposed to be the first Indian to be enumerated in the exercises.
While there has been opposition from several states on carrying out NPR, with some state assemblies also passing resolutions against adopting it, the government did not stall the process. Kerala, West Bengal, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Bihar were among the states that passed an anti-NPR resolution.
Meanwhile, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on March 20 had written to PM Modi urging that the NPR updation be postponed. Patnaik, who supported the government on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, however, had expressed his reservations over questions regarding the date and place of birth of parents in the 2020 NPR form.