All work, no pay for Census workers

An officer takes  information about a family for the  National Census.
An officer takes information about a family for the National Census.

Nearly 500 enumerators who carried out the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 in Delhi have claimed that the North East Delhi Census Department is yet to pay the honorarium for their hard work.

“Despite several attempts, the administration is not taking cognisance of the demand,” says Mahipal Singh (name changed), a civil defence volunteer at the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Court, Nand Nagri. “The Census enumerators are supposed to get 18,000 and supervisors 24,000 each. They are still awaiting their remuneration.”

A senior official at the Census section in the North East Delhi district administration admitted the delay in release of dues while stating that the department had received the funds in August 2015. “Ever since, we have been trying to clear the pending payments of enumerators as early as possible,” he says.

According to a statistical officer at the Census office, the district is divided into six divisions and most of the division enumerators have been awarded their honorarium, except for a few.

In 2012, the Union government selected a Maharashtra-based private company Netwin Infosolutions to register the population of Delhi. The government assigned door-to-door collection of SECC data of Delhi residents to teachers, civil defence volunteers and ASHA workers. “The IT workers, who uploaded the Census data, and the trainers, who trained the enumerators and supervisors for the task, got paid with immediate effect,” sources claim.

In February 2014, a supervisor, Mahender Pal Singh (name changed) approached the senior authority of the North East Delhi district administration but despite assurances nothing has happened even after two years.

This scribe spoke to a few enumerators associated with the SECC who were given a runaround to get their dues. Retired teacher Rampal Thakur (name changed) says, “It has been more than four years and the Census officers are not paying heed to our requests. Furthermore, we have been instructed to deposit cancelled cheques to register the bank details in the month of April 2015 to the sub-registrar office, Nand Nagri.”

District administration officials are yet to give a clear word on the issue despite reminders by Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya teachers who regularly visit the SDM Court in hope of payment

“After depositing the cancelled cheque we kept waiting for many months for the payment but to no avail. Thereafter, we approached the accounts office of the Census division at SDM Court. The concerned officer informed us that some of the account details of the enumerator do not match,” says Thakur.

Civil defence volunteer Mahendar Pal, who does not have a permanent job, claims that the department is “unnecessarily delaying the payment and harassing poor people like us. They come up with new issues every time.”

ASHA worker Kiran (name changed) says, “I verified 4,000-5,000 forms but I didn’t get a single rupee for the work. When I contacted the Census department three years after the SECC, they told me the administration had not received funds.”

A supervisor, who teaches with Government Boys Senior Secondary School Yamuna Vihar, says, “The government should pay the actual amount along with interest to all the enumerators and supervisors, associated with SECC.” He added, “Teachers should focus on teaching. Why doesn’t the government use the large number of unemployed in the country for conducting census surveys?”

“The first phase of the Census had begun in 2012. After its completion within three months, the teachers were engaged again in 2012-13 for the second phase. This could have been completed in the same phase but the time of teachers was wasted twice,” he complains.

Another primary teacher with Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya says, “When the work allotted to us is asked to be done on priority, the payment should also be on priority. We have not received even a single penny despite so many requests and written applications to the district administration of North East Delhi. Whenever we are told to do something apart from our regular job, we should be paid for that as well.”

“We toiled hard in the sweltering summer in 2012 to complete the Census work. The government should have promptly paid us. In 2012, teachers were out on the field the entire year — first for conducting the census, next for the voter’s list and then for the UID cards issued under the National Population Register,” he adds.

The lack of clarity regarding payment is adding to teachers’ frustration. District administration officials are yet to give a clear word on the issue despite reminders by teachers who regularly visit the SDM Court.

A teacher, on condition of anonymity, says, “We were threatened that if we refuse to work as enumerators, official action would be taken against us, thus affecting our service records. Now, after working hard, why are we being deprived of our dues?”

When KC Surendra, Additional District Magistrate of North East Delhi was approached for comment, he was seemingly shocked to know that honorarium has not been paid even after four years. The ADM immediately instructed the Census officers to release the honorarium as soon as possible. But, till date, the administration has not taken any action and some of the enumerators are still waiting for remuneration to reach their bank accounts.

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