Committee to look into ‘undercounting’ in big cities

An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics uses a digital device to collect information from a resident during the first-ever digital national census in Karachi on March 3, 2023. — Online
An official from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics uses a digital device to collect information from a resident during the first-ever digital national census in Karachi on March 3, 2023. — Online

ISLAMABAD: A committee has been formed to look into “undercounting” in big cities during the ongoing seventh population census after concerns were raised that Karachi’s population had been counted incorrectly.

With 95% of the counting completed, Karachi’s population was reported to be lower than that counted in the 2017 census, according to Geo News. The metropolis’ population has clocked in at 13.9 million, according to the count so far.

According to the previous census, Karachi’s population stood at 16 million. However, the figure has remained disputed with political parties claiming that it is inaccurate.

Following the concerns about the latest census, which is being conducted digitally for the first time, Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal Wednesday constituted a committee comprising Secretary Planning Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Chief Census Commissioner Dr Naeem uz Zafar and provincial chief secretaries.

A statement from the Ministry of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives said the committee will devise a mechanism to look into “undercounting” in major cities and suggest a way to resolve the issue to assure a transparent and credible census field operation.

The directives came during a meeting to review the progress of the ongoing digital census.

The planning minister also directed the Census Monitoring Committee to discuss how to complete the process within the deadline. He also directed Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco) to conduct geo-tagging to count the population of “missing” slums.

The meeting was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Syed Amin ul Haque, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) chief census commissioner, secretary planning, National Database and Registration Authority director, National Telecom Corporation managing director, and other stakeholders.

During the meeting, the chief census commissioner briefed the attendees about the targets achieved so far and the problem of undercounting in big cities, high-rise buildings and slum areas. He added that the PBS has appointed monitoring teams to find gaps in “low-coverage areas” to investigate the “real issue”.

The official stated that the major reason for “low coverage” was undercounting by field enumerators. He requested provincial officials to be more vigilant to resolve the issue. 

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