Sunday, August 12, 2001

Census figures throw up errors

By Razen Manandhar

KATHMANDU, Aug 11[2001] - Even after the preliminary results of the Census 2001 have been made public, allegations of wrong data abound.

The latest claim of misrepresentation of data comes from the villagers of Satungal, the ancient settlement about 12 km west of the Capital. And the "culprit," according to them, is the headmaster of a local school.

The locals allege that the enumerator, Ram Sharan Karki, recorded the religion of all the residents of the Newar village as Hindus and mother tongue as Nepali at random.

Karki has been working as the headmaster of Sri Nandi Ganesh High School for the last nine years and was also a supervisor during the 1991 Census.

Executive Member of Women Environment Preservation Committee (WEPCO), Yamuna Shrestha, a resident of Satungal, accused the enumerator of coding the mother tongue of all the people as Nepali and religion as Hindu. "If this is the situation in the Capital, what would it be in remote villages?", she questioned.

Though what the enumerators write in their collection-book is not disclosed, it remained no more secret in the densely populated village the data the headmaster was taking away three weeks ago was "far away from the truth".

Karki was made to revise the data four times. In his first report, he made some basic technical mistakes so he was asked to repeat the data collection.

In the second time, he indicated all the hundred over families of Shrestha, Maharjan, as well as temporary residents like Magar, Rai, Lama, Tamang, Chaudhari, Syangtan, Mahato and others as Hindus and their mother tongue as Nepali, the locals alleged.

In the third round, he corrected the religion and mother languages of the Newars, but left the data of other ethnic groups as belonging to Hindu religion and speaking Nepali as mother tongue.

The area supervisor Yogendra Rajkarnikar, pacified the agitated villagers by rejecting the data and ordered Karki to "revise" it.

At Karki’s fourth attempt, the locals followed him to each doorstep to see what he actually wrote in the data collection book.

"We followed the headmaster all day and found he was trying to misguide the citizens even in our presence" said a local youth Nhuchhe Bahadur Maharjan. The fourth data is now on the supervisor’s table and waiting for the sanction.

Rajkarnikar said, "What he did is that particular village can not be called merely a mistake," he said, but he refused to give the details of what kind of report Karki had presented previously, saying that " It is illegal."

However, the headmaster Karki defended himself saying that there were only "a few mistakes" on his report but the officers at Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) forced him to re-collect the data from all 240 families repeatedly.

"I bet, such mistakes can be found in all the 114 enumerators of the Kathmandu Kha district, but only I was victimised," Karki claimed.

He has not yet received his allowance though he has already submitted the fourth report on July 22 . Deputy Director-General of Central Bureau of Statistics(CBS) Radhakrishna GC said that "a teacher collected wrong information in Satungal and the process is on to correct it".

Sociologist, Dr Krishna Bhattachan said what happened in Satungal was just an example of the "concerted attempt" to produce fake statistics of Nepal, misusing the ten-year event of Census.

"That was not at all a mistake. Even in my home the enumerator tried to miscode the data of our family. When my family members objected, it was corrected using white fluids," he said.

CBS has already published its preliminary reports of the census that was held deputing over 25000 enumerators nationwide.