Cost factor weighs heavily on backward classes' census

Devaraj Urs Corporation comes up with Rs 120-crore budget

 A whopping sum of money proposed to be spent on the census of backward classes in Karnataka has not gone down well with the State government. D Devaraj Urs Backward Classes Development Corporation, the agency tasked with the census, has come up with a Rs 120-crore budget for the headcount.

The corporation, which began the work on census after a delay of eight years, had scheduled the exercise between October 1, 2012, and December 2013. According to the proposal submitted recently, the census will be taken up in April next year.

The Union government, during the year 2004-05, earmarked Rs 21.05 crore for conducting the census, of which Rs seven crore was released to the State government. The corporation, however, had spent only Rs 2.82 crore till date, with a majority of the funds going towards salaries of employees. The Centre did not release the balance amount as the corporation failed to utilise the funds for the survey.

Mohammed Sanaulla, Principal Secretary to the Backward Classes Welfare Department, said at least one-sixth of the budget for the census had to be cut down.
“The corporation wants to conduct a census of all communities, which is unnecessary.

The census of Scheduled Castes/Tribes has just been completed, and the premise is to determine the population of the backward classes. It is a sheer waste of time and money - it’s like reinventing the wheel. When we can make use of the data available, why waste public money in this fashion? The corporation should bring down the budget by at least Rs 20 crore to Rs 40 crore,” Sanaulla said.

Outsourcing

He said the corporation had proposed to engage a private agency to carry out the enumeration, which resulted in the high cost estimation.“If this work is outsourced, the authenticity of the data collated will be questioned. Also, there is no need to depend on an outside agency, when the entire government machinery is available for the task,” he said.

N Shankarappa, chairperson of the corporation, said the census was imperative since no authentic data was available to determine the population of backward classes and their socio-economic and cultural status.

“The exercise entails high costs since it involves about one lakh enumerators. As the government is unlikely to approve the proposal, we have decided to meet again and cut down the costs,” he said.

Shankarappa said a questionnaire comprising 72 questions was under preparation, while a State-level committee headed by the chief secretary would soon be constituted for the census.

The State government, while notifying the reservation policy in 2002, had indicated that backward classes account for 32 per cent of the total population. However, so far there has been no census to determine the population of backward classes in Karnataka.

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