ISLAMABAD: The government has completed all arrangements for what looks set to be the largest enumeration exercise in the country’s history — the sixth national population and housing census. The count will begin on Wednesday (March 15).
The census, which was last held in 1998, would be conducted by 118,918 trained enumerators and 200,000 military personnel, the Minister of State for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb said at a joint press conference with Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor and Chief Census Commissioner Asif Bajwa.
“Special measures are being taken for the security of census staff and enumerators [being] deployed in sensitive and conflict-stricken areas,” Ms Aurangzeb told Dawn after the press conference.
She said Rs18.5 billion had been allocated for the census, which would be held in two phases over a two-month span. The first phase will run from March 15 to April 15, while the second phase will begin after a 10-day interval and end on May 25.
200,000 troops, nearly 120,000 enumerators to take part in process which begins on March 15
“The interval is meant for shifting of necessary equipment and transportation of staff from phase-I areas to phase-II areas,” she added.
The minister said the deputy commissioner would be the head of census staff in his/her respective district, while the assistant commissioner concerned would supervise the process at the Tehsil level.
Speaking at the press conference, the ISPR chief warned that anyone who wilfully lied or made a false statement to the census team would be liable to a punishment of six months in prison and a fine of Rs50,000.
In reply to a question, the minister said all enumerators were fully trained government employees.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said military personnel had also been fully trained to conduct the census.
Ms Aurangzeb revealed that during the door-to-door listing and headcount, transgender and physically disabled persons would be separately profiled. Provisional lists to be published after May 25 would include the number of men and women, as well as the rural and urban population, she said.
The minister told Dawn that a comprehensive awareness campaign had been launched to educate the masses about the importance and procedures of the census, adding that Geographic Information System (GIS) technology would be employed for demographic profiling.
Citizens can call helpline 0800-57574 to provide information or file a report regarding the census process.
Maj Gen Ghafoor said the Army Air Defence Command in Rawalpindi would serve as the headquarters for the entire census process. “One soldier will be deputed with each numerator to ensure a smooth and transparent count,” he said, adding that under the census plan, there were 168,000 blocks, 20,631 circle levels and 3,307 in charge levels.
Military personnel accompanying enumerators will be directly linked with the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and will be able to verify the particulars provided.
The ISPR chief said the armed forces had consulted previous census records, particularly the one held in 1998. At that time, he added, the process had been completed in 90 days with the help of some 250,000 personnel.
Despite their engagement in various operations under way against terrorists, the armed forces would spare over 200,000 men for the process, which would be wrapped up within 60 days, he added.
Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2017