T Ramavarman, TNN | Aug 9, 2012,

KOCHI: The enumerators for the Socio Economic and Caste Census (SECC) 2011 seem to have come up with some curious data.According to them, there are 13,687 families who depend on manual scavenging to eke out a living in Kerala which has won global acclaim for its high levels of social development.Another perplexing finding is that there are 14,947 freed bonded labour families in the state.

Interestingly, even as per the census data of 1982 there were only 51 families who belong to the category of freed bonded labour in the state and all of them are known to have expired, the officials of the Rural Development Department (RDD) told TOI here. The data collection launched in April 11 was over in June. The SECC data also shows that 17,564 families belong to the primitive tribal group in the state and has accorded the status to five tribes, namely Kaadar, Cholanaikkar, Kattunaikkar, Koraka and Kurumba.

According to RDD officials, there could be a maximum of 5,000 families in the state in the group, mainly in Wayanad, Idukki and Kannur.

However, the data collected as part of the SECC indicates that there are about 1,500 families belonging to the group even in Thiruvananthapuram. The RDD officials clarified that some of the enumerators might have committed errors without knowing the criteria to be used for entering into different categories in the census data.

For instance the enumerators may have included the workers engaged in the city cleaning activities in the city areas as manual scavengers, he said.

The entire data collection exercise was paperless, done on hand-held electronic devices. This was expected to reduce data entry errors and enumerator discretion. Also officers at various levels were expected to make sure that there was no misreporting. But RRD officials are surprised that despite all these precautions such errors have crept in.

“We are trying to conduct another round of sample survey to trace how and where the errors have crept in,” the rural development commissioner Nandakumar said.