Census 2011: joint family is past

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The district level data that the Census Organization released last week offers new insights over the way we live in J&K and the state of rudimentary facilities we have access to.

Census officials releasing preliminary data about 2011 headcount in Srinagar.

The most vital revelation is that the society is giving up the joint family system and it is happening quite fast. In 2001, the enumerator had counted 70.34% households comprising of a married couple and their siblings. Ten years later, they have found that this set of household is now making 73.53% of the entire households living in J&K. Interestingly, the households having two married couples were constituting 15.09% of the total families in 2001 and it has dwindled to 13.5% in ten years.

Interestingly 9.82% of the households (197997) have no married couples suggesting these are either divorcees or widows with or without children or simply young orphans or single-parented. This is despite the fact that single-member households have witnessed a fall by 26.95% to reach a level of 32751 families in 2011.

House-listing suggests a fair balance between the creation of new households and construction of new houses. As the state added up 29.86% households in a decade, it set up 30.16% houses in the same period. Interestingly more than 300 thousand houses were not occupied at the time of enumeration suggesting the people continue to invest in the real estate that has traditionally remained the top household priority after acquiring gold. Land in J&K offers better and faster returns than even gold.

As far as use of constructions (census houses) is concerned, it is faith plying the second fiddle to the education. J&K added 64.33% construction to the schools and college buildings to reach 31843 and the place of worship increased by 53.43% to a number of 49135. Business and official premises jumped by 46.35% to 339197 and the hotels, lodges and guest houses reached 7473 – an addition by 21.91% in 10 years. Enumerators counted 32913 construction under industrial use – an increased by marginal 10.51%.

Condition of the houses people live in does not offer any great indicator of a high pace mobility in the state. While people living in dilapidated houses have increased by 98.86% in a decade to 78314 households. Families living in ‘livable’ houses have gone down marginally by 4.24% to 846388 households and those living in ‘good’ houses – almost half of the total population, have increased by 29.86%.

Families lacking an exclusive room have increased by 31% to 70047 and those having one room (plus kitchen) surged by 27.38% in 10 year and number 448767. It means more than one-fourth (25.74%) of the households across J&K (518814) live in kitchen or have one room in addition to the kitchen.

However, what is glaring is the state of basic amenities. Nearly 63.9% households have access to tapped water but it is sourced from treated source in only 34.7% cases and from untreated sources in 29.2% cases. There seems to be trend that particular districts across the state lack access to treated water. Kupwara is the worst hit where 23% of the households still use water from stream for drinking. The scale of untreated water supply is acute in Doda (65.3%), followed by Kulgam (62.4%), Kishtwar (55.2%), Shopian (49%), Kargil (48.50%), Baramulla, Bandipore, Islamabad and Ramban.

A substantial 39.50% families lack ownership to a bathroom and the ‘luxury’ is available to only 52.4%. Interestingly 52.2% households have no drainage systems in place. Slightly less than half of the households (983791) have no latrines and Sapru says the crisis is more visible in the periphery.

Firewood continues to be the main engine of the hearths across the state with 58.91% using it. However, the incidence of its use is higher in Doda, Kishtwar, Reasi, Ramab and Kupwara where around 80% households use it.

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