Government extends time for census in Maoist-hit Bastar

The government has decided to extend the time for carrying out census in Chhattisgarh`s Maoist-affected Bastar region.

New Delhi: The government has decided to extend the time for carrying out census in Chhattisgarh`s Maoist-affected Bastar region as the difficult terrain and presence of rebels was hampering the work of the enumerators, said an official.

"The state government had asked for extending time of the census exercise (in Bastar). The time has been extended," Renu Pillai, director, Census Chhattisgarh, told a news agency.

She said the state government has now been given time till September to complete the first phase of census in Bastar.

The exercise in Chhattisgarh began May 1 and is scheduled to end June 15.

The first phase involves listing of houses and collection of data for the national population resister (NPR).

Pillai said the state government had made a request for extending time to the Census Commissioner`s office in Delhi.

Chhattisgarh census officials told a news agency that the enumeration had proceeded at a slow pace in some parts of Bastar, especially Narayanpur district where only 55 percent of the villages had been covered so far.

The district authorities in Maoist-affected areas were using various modes of publicity, including pamphlets, banners and public address systems to reach out to the people and get their cooperation in the census exercise.

"People are being told about the uses of census through pamphlets, banners and mike announcements. They are being told that census will form the basis for flow of development funds in the area," a census official said.

He said there had been reports of Maoists opposing the census exercise in some remote villages of Bijapur, Narayanpur and Dantewada and also of looting and burning of enumeration documents.

"We have seen reports of obstruction caused by Maoists in Bholapatnam, Bhairamgarh and Orchcha and some other areas," the official said.

He said the pamphlets tell the people about the information being sought, including the material used in constructing of their houses, its condition and the number of rooms.

The pamphlet also has queries about the source of drinking water, availability of toilets, bathroom and kitchen, provision for release of dirty water and the fuel used in the house.

Information is also sought about the availability of amenities such as radio, telephone, vehicles and access to banking.

The information sought for the national population resister includes marital status, education, occupation and place of birth.

The first phase of Census 2011 will end in September. The second phase will be conducted between Feb 9 and 28 next year when enumeration of the population will be carried out.