Feburary 28, 2011, 10 pm, Bhopal railway station: Uday Ambkar, an enumerator was trying to fill in Census survey form with the light coming from near by tea stall, with many on-lookers who were wondering as to what was happening. He was trying to explain to the family, and others present about Census process. Initially they were suspicious but they needed to be told and shared information.
R K Jain, Deputy Director Census Operation who was with the team supervising the homeless listing being done at Bhopal explained in detail why this information was being seeked and the Census process. Puran Das, 50 years who was standing nearby and earns his living by begging at Bhopal station also came in and wanted to be counted. Though he pondered and later asked as if some benefit will be accrued for the information given.
Rahul a child who ran away from his home nearby village as his ‘sir had beaten him up’ got himself counted but was in hurry as he wanted to ‘play’ for his some time before he starts his work of collecting rags next day morning again.
‘February 28 night is the last leg of the census and is kept for head counting of the people living on the streets or houseless. This is done at night as it is difficult to locate many of them during day hours’ says Sachin Sinha, Director Operations for Census in Madhya Pradesh.
Census enumerators along with Census Director and UNICEF officials from its Madhya Pradesh office were on the streets of Bhopal full night supporting enumerators to do headcount and trying to make sure that all are counted.
It is not easy people living on streets as many of them are sleeping, they are awakened up while some get worried as they are immigrants or run away from home.
At bus station at Government run ‘ran basera’ or shelter home it was easy as they were under one roof and could be easily reached.
At over-bridge near the Bhopal talkies, a gond tribal family, ‘hidden’ by the darkness as their was no light, was silently having their meal of few chapattis with onions when the enumerators reached them. But they were willing to share information but lady enumerator had difficult time in filling in the form as it was pitch dark and she used light from her mobile to fill in the form.
Similarly at DIG bungalows, an area in Bhopal, people sleeping on the streets were awakened and sought information. ‘Many do not remember the information needed for filling in the form but we try to get as much as possible’ shares Namdev an enumerator who was completing the last leg at the street in DIG bunglows.
About 4500 enumerators including 500 from local bodies were engaged for counting of people living on the streets of Bhopal as the decadal Census ends in its last phase.