NSSO survey triggers fears of NPR in Hyderabad locality; temporarily suspended

Rahul V Pisharody

A women surveyor being questioned by a resident in Chandrayangutta.

Enumerators tasked with carrying out surveys for various state and central agencies are facing a tough time dealing with Hyderabad residents in the wake of protests against the amended Citizenship Law and fears over the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

On Wednesday afternoon, as seen in a video that has gone viral on social media, two women surveyors could be seen stopped and questioned by a resident in the Malakpet area. "Don't you know what is the prevailing situation in the city? Protests are happening all across in connection with NPR, NRC, and CAA. There is a fear among the public," the man is heard asking the surveyors in the video. While the women try to explain that the data collection has nothing to do with National Population Register (NPR), the man says he will cooperate once normalcy returns.

The two were carrying out a survey for the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) to gauge how much a family spends on domestic travel.

Confirming the incident, G.Lakshminarayana, Joint Director at the State government’s Directorate of Economics and Statistics(DES), said he received panic calls from residents of Malakpet and that he had to temporarily suspend the exercise in Malakpet.

"It is a government of India survey. Since there is resistance on the ground, I have called back the team temporarily. The survey will not stop. We will bring it to the notice of the central government and ask what should be done," he told indianexpress.com.

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Lakshminarayana said the situation is such that the officials are not in a position to complete the survey within the stipulated time frame. "If there is such resistance, we cannot venture out. We will come back if we face such resistance. We cannot stop the survey. At present, we have stopped the collection of data from the sample in the Malakpet area. We will send a report to the Centre stating the situation and why we will not be able to complete the survey within the stipulated time," he added.

In Telangana, the data collection duties have been split between the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) and the Directorate of Economics and Statistics (DES). While the DES has been allocated 740 samples, NSSO is in charge of 370 samples for a survey in the state. All samples are allocated to chief planning officers in all 33 districts in the State.

As per NSSO guidelines, the DES surveys have been organised in selected villages or blocks in districts and urban areas.

Based on a geographical map of the sample provided by NSSO, the teams are supposed to list out the total households, select 30 households from them and collect details in the prescribed schedule.

In Hyderabad, for example, as many as 40 samples have been selected and the same is spread over 3 to 4 sub-rounds. So, hardly 10-15 samples will be allocated in each sub-round of three to four months span. Each sample will have 30 households.

"Between January 1 and March 31, 10 teams will collect data from urban areas in Hyderabad district. That is just about 150 households. That's all. It is only a sample survey and selected households will be canvassed in the prescribed schedule," Lakshminarayana said.

Lakshminarayana said it's a multiple indicator survey to gather information on whether targets of the UN Sustainable Development goals programme were being met.

The main purpose of the collection of data, he said, is to know the spending and purpose of domestic travel by people of the state. "If people have travelled for medical, educational, business or pilgrimage purposes etc. Every trip or visit will be considered," he said.

"We don't talk anything beyond what is there in the schedule like how many members live, their age groups, educational qualifications, employment, sanitation, any training attended, places visited recently and purpose, etc.," added Lakshminarayana, who is also the chief planning officer for Hyderabad district.

The DES is participating currently in the 78th round and, like every year, the surveyors have been visiting selected households since January 1.

"It is the first time. Because of CAA and NRC, it seems people are worried and have taken a resolution to not cooperate. Not only our survey, but they have resisted to GHMC's survey on literacy rate also," he pointed out.

Spokesperson of Majlis Bachao Tehreek in a tweet said: "Another survey by CPO Hyderabad turned down by residents, Request @Collector_HYD to stop all survey as public already in fear due to #NPR_NRC."

While the NSSO has been creating awareness on the survey and that it has no links to NPR, NRC, etc, the DES will also now create awareness among the public as it goes about the job. "It is for the benefit of the people. It is for developing plans for the future. It has nothing to do with caste, creed or religion." he added.

GHMC's illiteracy survey also faces resistance from the public

On February 25, in a similar incident, two women enumerators of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation's survey of illiterate persons were heckled by residents.

The two teachers had a forgettable experience at Chandrayangutta when the residents questioned their intentions.

The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation had launched a 10-day exercise to enumerate illiterate persons in the city between February 24 and March 4, 2020.

The survey is expected to cover all wards of GHMC and around 24,78,000 families with 97,97,000 population residing in the city. For the exercise, as many as 8,681 enumerators have been drafted and each of them will cover around 250 to 300 houses in these 10 days, said an official statement. The enumerators will collect only details such as father's or husband's name, age and phone numbers from the persons, it had clarified.

Since people from all across the country are found staying in the city, data of only those with mother tongue Telugu will be considered. The survey will be conducted between 7 am and 11 am.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao during his new year message on January 1 had called upon literate citizens to educate illiterate persons under the theme "Each one, Teach one".

As of February 26, a total of 59,650 illiterate citizens have been identified from a total of 4,80,486 households surveyed. Of them, 37,564 are females.

The GHMC Commissioner DS Lokesh Kumar has clarified that the state-wide survey aims to only enhance the literacy rate under 'each one, teach one' initiative.