Guwahati, Jun 19: Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Saturday said the Assam government will gradually implement a two-child policy for availing benefits under specific schemes funded by the State.
The proposed population control policy will, however, not be applicable in all the schemes in Assam immediately as many f the benefits are offered by the central government, Sarma said at a press conference here. "There are some schemes for which we cannot impose the two-child policy, like availing free admission in schools and colleges, or houses under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana. "But, in case of some schemes, say if a housing scheme is launched by the state government, the two-child norm can be introduced. Slowly in later stages, the population norm will come in every state government scheme," he added.
The Chief Minister also criticised the opposition for targeting the size of his parents' family. Sarma belongs to a family of five brothers.
"There is no point in talking about what our parents did or other people did in the 1970s. The opposition is saying these strange things and pushing us back to 70s," he added. The Chief Minister, who assumed office last month, has been advocating a two-child norm for using benefits under the government schemes. On June 10, Sarma had spoken about recent evictions in three districts and urged the minority community to adopt "decent family planning policy" for population control to reduce poverty, which leads to shrinking of living space and consequent land encroachment.
He had also blamed the immigrant Muslim community for having large families, drawing sharp reactions from various quarters, including the AIUDF having a strong base in the community. Assam currently has a two-child norm along with requirements of minimum educational qualifications and functional sanitary toilets for contesting in panchayat polls as per an amendment in 2018 to the Assam Panchayat Act,1994. Sarma also said that the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) chief and MP Badruddin Ajmal has been appreciative of the government's thrust on women education, which has a correlation with population control.
"Badruddin Ajmal met me yesterday. He appreciated the importance we are giving on women education," he added.