ISLAMABAD: The ongoing population census has entered its final phase and the census data is expected to be digitised latest by July 25, a senior official of the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics told Dawn.

The Islamabad-based Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, responsible for census operations, has received all census forms and questionnaires from its field formations.

According to the official, almost all areas of Pakistan, including the special areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, have been covered in the two-phase exercise. The official said that the census could not be carried out in some blocks of South Waziristan and Mohmand Agency due to security reasons. However, the census was completed in all other areas of Fata.

The first phase of the census ended on April 15, while the second phase was completed on May 25. “We have received census data collected manually across the country at the PBS headquarters in Islamabad. All arrangements for data processing have been put in place,” the official said, adding that the PBS staff had started compiling district-wise data.

Digitisation of data to be completed by July 25

The PBS officials have intelligent character recognition technology to convert manual data to a machine-readable format which can be digitised. The technology allows recognition of image data. It turns images of handwritten or printed characters to a machine-readable format. “We have seven scanners for the purpose,” the official said.

Data collected in the first phase of the census has been successfully transferred to computers. The PBS had also verified the data collected in the first phase from the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) records. Earlier, Nadra had blocked 350,000 computerised national identity cards ahead of the first phase.

The government has spent Rs18.5 billion on the census, of which Rs6bn was spent on army personnel and a similar amount on the PBS staff. The remaining Rs6.5bn was spent on providing transportation.

The first census in the country was conducted in 1951, the second in 1961, the third in 1972 instead of 1971, due to political turmoil, and the fourth census was conducted in 1981. The fifth census, which was due in 1991, was conducted in March 1998 with the help from the army. Under the Constitution, the government is supposed to conduct the census every 10 years.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2017

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