Monday July 15, 2024

PBS suggests re-check in 30,000 buildings of Karachi fearing some may not have been counted

By Oonib Azam
April 10, 2023

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) has suggested an enumeration re-check in around 30,000 buildings of more than four storeys in Karachi, and sent the list of those buildings to the Sindh government as its officers have been performing the census duties in the city.

The monitoring team of the PBS has identified such 40,000 buildings throughout the country where they fear that some households might not have been counted. Of such buildings, around 30,000 belong to Karachi.

The PBS chief statistician, Dr Naeemuz Zafar has physically shown a few of such buildings to the provincial census commissioner in Karachi and asked the relevant assistant commissioners to revisit them for the census count.

The PBS’s command & control room in Karachi on Sunday, April 9, showed that 13.76 million people had so far been counted in Karachi during the census. Of the total 2.93 million households listed, 2.7 million had been enumerated.

Until Sunday evening, the PBS had geo-tagged around 40 million households in the entire country. Independent researcher Sadya Siddiqui did some calculations for The News based on this data. She said that in a special newspaper supplement on Vision Sindh 2022 published in April last year, urban planner Arif Hasan had estimated that Karachi’s population was increasing by 0.5 million annually and he attributed half of this number to migration to the city.

Based on Hasan’s estimate, she said the official census 2017 count for Karachi could be extrapolated to a final count of 18.5 million to 19 million people in the city in 2023. Regarding the listed households, she said there were over 200,000 under-construction apartments at any given day, according to a book, Karachi's Public Transport, authored by Hasan and Mansoor Raza in 2021.

"The Census 2017 also found that the Karachi population grows by 2.59 per cent annually, which is closer to the country's population growth rate,” she said. As for the homeless people survey, she said, it should be done during the night hours in order to know how many people in Karachi slept on footpaths, under the bridges, in green belts, parks, railway stations, or in their rickshaws and pushcarts.

Homelessness was an urban phenomenon, she added. “There are factory workers who sleep within the factory premises, so they are not shelter-less but are certainly homeless,” she said. Officials of the PBS on Sunday said that 92 per cent of the city had been enumerated and with the rest of the eight per cent, they were hopeful that the population count in Karachi would increase from the count of the 2017 census. However, the PBS dashboard showed that 77.5 per cent of the city had been enumarated. This means that in the remaining 22.5 per cent of the city, which majorly comprises the densely populated District East, not less than four million heads have to be enumerated.

PBS officials said the synchronisation of data took some time, due to which the dashboard was showing that 77.5 per cent of the city had been covered in the census, but actually they had enumerated 92 per cent of the city.

Responding to speculations on social media that the population of Karachi would reduce from the 2017 count, PBS officials said there were no such chances.

The News also tried to estimate the population of Karachi by multiplying the number of households, which is 2.925 million, with the average family size of the city as per the 2017 census, which is around six. The result of that multiplication came out to be 17.5 million. As per the PBS website, the average household size of Karachi in 2017 was 5.75 persons.

Action against ACs

The PBS coordinator and spokesperson, Muhammad Sarwar Gondal, shared on Sunday that it had been decided in a meeting with the provincial government that action would be taken against assistant commissioners who showed negligence in the census operations and a report mentioning their negligence would be included in their service record.

It is pertinent to mention here that the assistant commissioners were the incharge of the census operations in all the sub-divisions outside cantonment areas. For the census, the PBS had demarcated 37 different census districts in Karachi, comprising sub-divisions and cantonment boards, and their respective assistant commissioners and CEOs were made the incharge of census operations there.

On the request of the provincial government, Gondal said the PBS would extend the census process for a few more days to complete the count.

He added that the assistant commissioners had been told to get the leftover blocks and buildings enumerated as soon as possible. He explained that District East and District Malir were the two districts of Karachi where a significant number of people had still not been counted as the enumeration also started a bit late in those districts.

By April 30, he said, they would submit final results of the census to the federal government so that the Election Commission of Pakistan could start the delimitation process for the elections. “Elections will be held on the basis of the last approved census results,” he said, adding that unless the census results had been approved, they could not be used for delimitations.

Regarding reservations of political parties on the census, he said that Federal Minister for Information Technology Aminul Haque of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan had also been made part of the census monitoring committee on the recommendation of the prime minister.