The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Bhutan Prepares for Another Eviction

........Population figure discrepancyThere is a difference of 100,00 between the NSB projection and the census record 

Statistics: Bhutan’s population could be about 100,000 lower than projections of the national statistical bureau (NSB), according to figures maintained by the home ministry’s department of civil registration and census.

Bhutan’s population stood at 633,607 as of September 11 this year, as per the civil registry records. NSB’s projections put the population figure at 733,004 for 2013.

NSB’s projections are based on the population growth rate of 1.9 percent, which is derived from the 2005 population and housing census of Bhutan (PHCB). Accordingly, NSB projected the population for 2012 at 720,679 with 375,554 males and 345,125 females.

Civil registration officials presented the figures last month to district judges, who were in Thimphu attending a training programme.

According to the census figure, 322,020 persons are males and 311,587 are females. By age group, 390,802 fall between age group of 18 to 65 years, which makes up 62 percent of the population. The remaining 206,915 are under 17 years. Six percent or 35,890 persons are above 66 years of age.

According to the Constitution, a person, both of whose parents are citizens of Bhutan, shall be a natural born citizen of Bhutan. A person, domiciled in Bhutan on or before December 31, 1958, and whose name, if registered in the official record of the government of Bhutan, shall be a citizen of Bhutan by registration.

The 2005 population and housing census of Bhutan conducted in May that year, and the principal source of information for the NSB, was enumerated using the de facto and de jure method.

Then the actual resident population enumerated, as of May 30 and 31, 2005, was 634,982 persons, of which 333,595 persons were male and 301,387 were females. The total urban population was 196,111 while 438,871 lived in rural areas.

The population break up as of September 11

Population censuses were undertaken in 1969 and 1980, during which population figures were found to be bloated because of the large influx of migrants from neighbouring countries, particularly labour migrants at the instance of construction coinciding with the large-scale development work on infrastructure expansion.

“In 1996, the total population was found to be around 600,000,” the NSB 2012 statistical yearbook states.

Meanwhile, civil registry records state that, as of September 11 this year, 56,444 non-Bhutanese were in the country with valid permit.

Of this 51,139 were non-Bhutanese construction workers, 56 were student cardholders, 961 were dependent cardholders, 894 with marriage certificate card holders, who married Bhutanese, and 746 were entry permit holders.

There were also 2,648 Tibetans, of which 993 were green card holders, who opted to stay in Bhutan, while 1,655 were stay permit holders, who opted to leave the country as and when they wished.

The number of non-Bhutanese residing in Bhutan is expected to be higher. For instance, immigration officials detected a total of 2,952 illegal immigrants from 2008 to 2012.

The highest numbers were detected in 2010 with 624, followed by 613 in 2009. The total figure detected in 2012 was 496.

The inspection during 2010 included 46 hawkers, 29 sadhus, 106 illegal sweepers and 193 illegal maids.

Immigration officials also collected Nu 36.1M as fines and penalties between 2010 and 2103. The highest collection of Nu 13.73M was recorded in 2012-13, followed by Nu 12.48M in 2011-12.

For the 2013 general elections in July this year, the election commission of Bhutan used the data of the civil registry to finalise the electoral roll. According to the commission, 381,790 were registered to vote in the Assembly elections, which means they feature in the census records and can vote.

Meanwhile, development practitioners point out that certain key economic indicators, such as per capita income could significantly change if the civil registry figures are used in the calculation.

By Rinzin Wangchuk

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