New Delhi: The Gram Sabha will play a major catalyst during the census to identify the country’s population living below the poverty line in rural areas. Gram Sabha will be solely responsible for deciding the people who fall under the category.

This is the first time that the mammoth head count is being carried out to identify people belonging to financially weaker background along with their caste and religion. The entire project will cost a whopping amount of Rs 4,000 crore. In addition to the rural areas, the census will also be carried out in down trodden sections of urban areas.

Rural Development Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh while detailing about the methodology to be used during census, said, “The entire list will be placed before the Gram Sabha of the region and it will only decide whether the answers given by the person are correct or not.”

Officials of the Rural Development ministry claimed the parameters to be correct, said, “The methodology for this caste census has been tested after carrying out a pilot study on one lakh houses in 254 villages on the basis of seven national parameters. According to this, the families with monthly income of Rs 2,500 will fall under BPL list.” On an average, a family will be considered to be of five members.

Meanwhile, Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation Minister Kumari Selja mentioning about the census of urban poor said, “The government will have authentic figures after this. The identification of the urban poor will be based on residential, occupational and social vulnerabilities and on this basis development programme will be finalised.”

Replying to a question, the Minister said that the BPL census figures will be linked to Unique Identification Authority of India (Adhaar) in final phase but right now the survey is completely different from Adhaar. It was also mentioned clearly that the enumeration of caste will be based on ‘individual declaration’ and persons concerned will not be asked to produce any certificate to prove their caste.

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.

JPN/Bureau