Hejamara: In a bid to identify people living Below Poverty Line (BPL), the Central government on Wednesday kicked off a nationwide socio-economic caste census in Tripura. It is claimed that the counting will be concluded by March 2012.

However, with the initiation of the caste-census, which was flagged off from Shankhola, Centre has met with a stern protest from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Both these states have asked for more time from the Union government to complete the counting.

Calling the survey a historic event, Rural Development Secretary B K Sinha said, "Those names would be deleted from the list of BPL beneficiaries who own a vehicle or two-wheelers, concrete house, landline phone, fishing trawler, government employees having income above Rs 10,000, holders of Kisan Credit Cards with Rs 50,000 or paying income tax."

Talking exclusively to Dainik Jagran, he said that the caste-census is facing some challenges from Bihar and UP because of their density and population. Only UP needs nearly 1 lakh Electronic Tablets and similar number of staff to complete the caste-census in the region, he said.

“The Centre can provide them equipments and machines but the states have to take the responsibilities of deployment and administrative discipline in the region,” Sinha stated.

In the wake of 2012 UP assembly polls, Rural Development Ministry has asked the state to complete the work by December end but the state government is determined to get the caste-census done in February without giving any sufficient reasons for the decision.

Adding to the Ministry’s woes, Bihar has another set of issues. Recently, the state asked for the constitution of another BPL committee specifically for Bihar, which was dismissed by BK Sinha.

On a question, Sinha answered that this is the first time that the urban poor will also be included in the caste-census. “This is the first phase of the caste-census, which will be completed within 40 days. Tripura, Chandigarh, Daman-Diu, Dadra Nagar Haveli and Puducherry have been included in this phase,” he informed.

JD-U opposes the move

Sparking a fresh controversy over the issue of caste census, JD-U chief Sharad Yadav demanded cancellation of government's ‘unwise and impractical’ decision to club the census with the poverty survey.

In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Yadav wanted the government to ‘honour’ its own Cabinet decision to conduct a caste census by the Census Commissioner of India.

He said the exercise be carried out in February next year using a paper questionnaire, seeking all relevant social, educational and occupational information.

Opposing the government's attitude, Yadav said that the issue would be raised in a big way in the monsoon session as the "home minister has rendered caste census completely meaningless."

"We demand that Government should immediately cancel its unwise and impractical decision to club the caste census with the poverty survey to be done by the state governments," Yadav told reporters adding that the move would make the "entire proposed exercise casual and perfunctory".

Objecting to the poverty-cum-caste survey, he said merely ascertaining how many people in each caste are above and below poverty line is "not socio-economic profiling of the population."

Besides, he insisted that this will not discharge the union government from its statutory obligation to collect full and quantifiable social, educational and employment data as required by the Supreme Court.