Sri Lanka will hold nationwide census in 2011 after a gap of three decades. On the basis of projections, the estimated population is 21 million. The last nationwide population count was taken in 1981. With militancy rearing its head, it had since not been possible to hold census in the northern and eastern provinces.

Lack of accurate data on population, particularly in the Northern Province, has been a hindrance in planning developmental and other projects. Even the voters' lists with the Election Commission are considered to be wide off the mark.

For instance, in the Northern Province, the percentage of voting in the April parliamentary election was below 25 per cent. The low percentage is not exactly a reflection of lack of enthusiasm as a majority of the voters on the rolls are believed to have migrated out of the province.

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