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Final Phase of Caste Survey Begins in Bihar as HC Clears way

The Mahagathbandan government directed all DMs and other concerned officials to start the work of caste survey from August 2.
Bihar HC

Patna: A day after the Patna High Court (HC) permitted Bihar government to complete the much-awaited caste survey, the last phase of work began on Wednesday. Without any delay, the government has started the survey to complete it by mid-August.

Hours after the court's order, the Mahagathbandan government led by Nitish Kumar directed all district magistrates and other concerned officials to start the work of caste survey from August 2.

According to officials, the remaining 20% of the survey will be completed now. The HC halted the survey on May 4 in an interim order after hearing PILs seeking a temporary stay.

In Patna, District Magistrate Chandrasekhar himself visited a house in a ward under Phulwarisharif to formally launch the caste survey.

Reports reaching Patna from other districts reveal that survey work has been resumed following the court's order.

Senior leaders of the JD(U) and RJD, two major ruling coalition parties, strongly favoured the survey and attacked the BJP for supporting the petitioners seeking to stay it.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav explained the survey's benefits to all.

A Division Bench headed by Chief Justice KV Chandran gave the order on Tuesday after reserving it for 25 days, categorically said that the Nitish Kumar government can conduct the caste survey. In its nearly 100-page order, the HC rejected all the PILs seeking a stay on the survey.

State Advocate General PK Sahi claimed, inside and outside the court, the state government has the right to conduct a caste survey as it has the authority to know about the socio-economic conditions of the population to plan welfare schemes.

Sahi also informed the court that the government had allocated specific funds in the supplementary Budget for conducting the exercise. The Legislative Assembly and the Council had unanimously passed a resolution to complete the survey, Sahi said.

The state government started the survey’s second and final phase in April, ignoring the opposition of some powerful sections of the society. The first phase started in January after the Centre ruled out the possibility of such a census two years ago.

The survey will likely help the coalition consolidate its social support base by fulfilling a significant promise made to OBCs and EBCs.

Kumar and RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav are pro-Mandal and have been demanding a Caste Census since 2015. They have repeatedly claimed that the Caste Census data will help uplift deprived communities as development plans would be made based on fresh socio-economic data.

Kumar supported the survey by saying it would help identify the number of people from poor and marginalised castes. The last Caste Census was completed in 1931.

 In the first phase, enumerators identified the number of households in all 38 districts of the state. In the second phase, caste and socio-economic data of each household were collected.

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