India has not surpassed the population of China, the Union government told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai made the statement in response to a question by Congress MP Deepak Baij, who sought to know whether India has become the most populous country and if the government was planning to conduct a Census.

In his reply, the minister said that China’s projected population, based on a United Nations report as of July 1 was 142.56 crore. India’s projected population at the same time stood at 139.23 crore, he said, citing a report published by the National Commission on Population.

However, in April, a report by the United Nations had estimated that India’s population had surpassed that of China. The report had put India’s population at 142.86 crore, and that of China at 142.57 crore.

Meanwhile, in Parliament, Rai also told the Lok Sabha that the Census 2021 and related field activities have been postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The last Census was held in 2011. In 2020, India was set to begin the first phase of the exercise – in which housing data is collected – but the coronavirus pandemic hit.