Fine-tuning required in certain criteria for BPL census: Govt

Government on Friday indicated that there could be some changes in the criteria for the head count to identify the country`s poor.

Updated: May 20, 2011, 20:54 PM IST

New Delhi: Government on Friday indicated that
there could be some changes in the criteria for the head count
to identify the country`s poor.

The Union Cabinet had yesterday given its nod for
conducting a census in rural and urban areas to identify those
living below poverty line, including their caste and religion.

"Some fine tuning is required in certain criteria...If
certain criteria require fine-tuning, we will consider them
but there will be no major changes," Rural Development
Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh told a press conference here.

The minister`s remarks are significant as the government
has finalised the methodology for this caste census after
carrying out a pilot study on one lakh houses in 254 villages
on the basis of seven national parameters.

At the press conference, Deshmukh and Housing and Urban
Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja gave details of
methodologies of the controversial caste census.

Deshmukh said the BPL census figures will be linked to
Unique Identification Authority of India in final phase but
right now the government is just conducting a survey.

The minister said Gram Sabha will have a major role in
it as the list of this census will be placed before the Gram
Sabha of the region.

The ministers said that the enumeration of caste during
this census, which is likely to begin by the month-end or the
first week of July, will be based on "individual declaration"
and persons concerned will not be asked to produce any
certificate to prove their caste.

Officials of the Rural Development ministry said the
caste claims of the persons being enumerated will not be
subjected to public scrutiny.

They said the names of their castes will be noted down
without questioning. They, however, downplayed the doubts
about manipulation in such an exercise saying the states have
mechanism to verify such claims in case of Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes.

Selja said during the exercise being carried out jointly
by both the ministries, the effort will be to avoid
duplication of work. She said that the methodology to conduct
a survey of urban poor based on residential, occupational and
social vulnerabilities has already been finalised.

Asked whether there would by any cap on the number of
BPL houses to be surveyed, Deshmukh said, "Today we are going
to survey each household. The cap issue is pending with the
Supreme Court and hence will come up before after the Supreme
Court decides it...if there is a difference between the actual
figure and the cap figure, it will be decided later on."

This is the first time that the mammoth head count is
being carried out to identify the poor along with their caste
and religion. While the last BPL census was carried out in
2002, this is the first effort to carry out caste census since