Panchayat members to accompany caste census enumerators

August 8th, 2011 - 9:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said Monday that the enumeration for socio-economic and caste census (SECC) 2011 has been made more open by inclusion of panchayat members in the process of canvassing.

Addressing a meeting here in connection with SECC, which started from Tripura in June, the minister said deprivation criterion to identify the poor households could be reworked by giving more weightage to some indicators.

The census is slated to be completed by December this year.

Ramesh said the presence of panchayat representatives will ensure that there are witnesses when the enumerator, along with a data entry operator, visits a rural household with a questionnaire and responses are entered in a hand held device.

“I am open to (changes in) relative weightage of deprivation criterion…(but) there is no urgency. We can wait for enumeration to be over,” he said.

He said the ministry was not doing a BPL (below poverty line) census but generating a rank listing of rural households based on an automatic exclusion, inclusion and deprivation criterion which will be given to state governments.

Ramesh added that once the listing has been given to the state governments, they will use Planning Commission’s estimate of poverty to determine which households will be classified as BPL.

“When the 12th Plan begins, it is our expectation that state governments would have completed the exercise who the BPL (families) are,” Ramesh said.

Admitting that there had been criticism of the poverty criterion adopted for SECC, Ramesh said he had called a meeting of leading poverty experts of the country Aug 16.

“Whoever has a problem with the criterion can make a presentation,” he said.

Ramesh said there should be “concurrent evaluation” of ministry programmes and asked his officials to prepare a list of 60-70 research institutions who would be integral part of the process.

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