The numbers recorded in Census 2011 have blown the lid off the tall claims by the Centre and Uttar Pradesh Government on checking population growth and more importantly, saving the girl child.
Speaking to Express, the state’s head of the census department Pradip Kumar revealed that between 2001 and 2011, the population of the state had grown by a staggering three crore. Though he insisted that the state’s population growth rate had gone down for the first time since 1971, it was still way above the national average, and even the state average, at several places.
The alarming growth figure is equal to the entire population of Chhattisgarh and three times that of Uttarakhand.
According to the census, 26 districts recorded a population growth rate more than the national average of 17.7 per cent, while 29 districts tallied more than the state average of 20.2 per cent.
“Yes the population boom in the state should be a cause of concern for politicians and the policy makers, because the infrastructure and the resources to cater to the population are limited and if government programmes continue in this unimpressive way, the state will face a socio-economic crisis,” said a senior census official, adding that the data mirrored the demographic character of the state.
Another indicator of abject failure on the part of the government and the NGOs was the dismal child sex ratio. The child sex ratio, always a cause of concern in the state, had gone down further in the last decade. The latest figures in the age group between 0-6 reveal that if the number of girls in 2001 was 916 per 1,000 boys, in 2011 it was down to 902, the lowest since 1947.
In the last 10 years, government programmes entailed hundreds of crores of rupees to improve the child sex ratio in the state and parallel campaigns were also run by the NGOs and international agencies. But, the census figures have questioned the efficacy of these efforts.
“The talk about girls and women being worshipped in India is just that, only talk. The ground reality is very different and harsh. Lack of protection for the girl child seems to be one of the factors behind parents opting for female foeticide,” said a journalist with a local TV news channel.
Tellingly, the census figures show that rural areas of the state have witnessed a greater surge in population and deeper fall in sex ratio, suggesting that government programmes had failed to penetrate the hinterland and the results are directly linked with literacy.Among the other notable findings was the decline in the Dalit population. UP has the largest concentration of Dalits with a population of 4.13 crore. But there has been a 0.5 per cent fall in their population in the last decade. The BSP’s widening support base and emergence as a strong political force in the state could be linked to the significant presence of Scheduled Castes in the state.
Interestingly, after the creation of Uttarakhand, Scheduled Tribes had almost vanished from UP, their population falling to less than one per cent. But in the last decade, it had increased to 0.6 per cent as compared to 0.5 per cent in the previous decade. The state currently has a 11.34 lakh strong ST population.
The Census Department, which completed its task of home to home enumeration of the entire population of the state in 2011, released the data on Friday. The process was a challenge for the department officials, who managed to successfully complete the mission despite having just 300 personnel to man the task.
Speaking to Express, A K Singh, Director of Giri Institute of Social Studies here, said it was disheartening to note that the practice of female foeticide had reached the rural areas.