GUWAHATI: Assam will soon implement its population policy in state government-sponsored schemes. "Whether it is a waiver of loans or government schemes, the government is going to implement the population norms in the near future," Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said.
He said that initially the numbers would be kept on the higher side -- up to four to five children. Families belonging to the tea garden community, Scheduled Caste, and Scheduled Tribe will be exempted from the purview of population norms, he said.
The "Population and Women Empowerment Policy of Assam" says persons with more than two children will not be eligible for government jobs and they cannot become members of panchayat and civic bodies. Such families will also not be considered for various benefits under government schemes. The policy came into effect on January 1 this year.
Last week, Sarma had made an appeal to Assam’s migrant Muslims to plan small families. He had warned that if the state’s population continued to explode, there would be conflicts over space for living and the land of even Kamakhya temple and his house would be encroached one day.
However, Opposition Congress was quick to dismiss his statement. Sharing the data of the latest National Family Health Survey, undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and released in December 2020, the party said the total fertility rate (TFR) across most Indian states declined in the last five years.
"The TFR is defined as the average number of children that would be born to a woman by the time she ends childbearing. A TFR of 2.1 is known as the replacement rate. The fertility rate of less than 2.1 implies that the total population will be less than the existing population which is also called the negative growth rate… As per the same survey, the fertility rate of women in Assam has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 1.9 in 2020-21 and 1.9 is less than 2.1 which means the future population of Assam will only be less than the current population," the Congress had said.