New Delhi: A nationwide Census to identify Indians living below the poverty line (BPL) and help determine those eligible for social welfare schemes meant for the poor begins with Tripura on Wednesday.
Being conducted after 14 years, the mammoth exercise, to be concluded by the year-end in both urban and rural areas, will also take a headcount for various caste and religious groups in the country.
The results of the census will be utilised in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2012-13 to 2016-17).
The government had last month given the go-ahead for the census, the findings of which will also help in extending the Food Security Act that promises subsidised foodgrains to the poor.
To be carried out jointly by the Ministry of Rural Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, and the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, the survey will roll out from Hezamara rural development block in western Tripura.
For the first time, the survey will include urban households as well. Chandigarh would be the first city where the socio-economic caste census will begin July 18.
According to the officials, the people living without shelter, the destitutes, beggars, manual scavengers, primitive tribal groups, and legally released bonded labourers would get priority to be included in the BPL lists.
In addition, those families that own a vehicle or two-wheelers, a concrete house or a house with three or more rooms or a fixed phone, a fishing boat or agricultural equipment, pay professional or income tax to the government, have a member in government service, earn above Rs 10,000 per month or have Kisan Credit Cards with Rs 50,000 and above would not be included in the BPL list.
"Along with the BPL survey, the caste census would be conducted simultaneously across the country and that would also start from Wednesday," Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India C Chandramauli said.
Instead of pen and paper, the census enumerators will carry indigenously developed tablet computers to record the data. The Bharat Electronic Ltd (BEL) is supplying these low-cost computers.
The latest data of the Planning Commission indicates that poverty (in India) has declined to 32 percent in 2009-10 from 37.2 percent five years ago.
(With IANS inputs)