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House adopts population policy as govt resolution

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Sept 15 - Asserting that the limited resources cannot afford the rapid population growth and raising an alarm over the fast changing demography of the State, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma outlined the State�s new �Population and Women Empowerment Policy,� which was adopted by the Assembly as a government resolution today.

As part of the policy, besides focusing on education and awareness, the Government will consider a system of incentives and disincentives �with utmost caution� to achieve the goals.

Candidates having two or less children will only be eligible for government jobs, while government servants will have to strictly follow the norms of a two-children family. Moreover, persons, both male and female, who violate the legal age of marriage will not be eligible for any employment or employment generation scheme under the Government.

The Government is also likely to legislate a legal provision to bar people with more than two children to take part in panchayat and municipal body elections. Similar legal provisions will be considered for election or nomination to other statutory bodies and committees.

Besides, to create an educated society, minimum educational qualifications will be put as criteria for contesting panchayat and urban body polls.

In order to mobilise beneficiaries for family planning at the grassroot level, special additional incentives will be provided to ASHA workers and Anganwadi workers in the 11 highly focused districts � where there has been an abnormal population growth in the last decade or so � to encourage adoption of family planning and spacing methods by eligible couples.

Of the total financial resources allocated to panchayats, 10 per cent will be earmarked for performance-based disbursement in the field of reproductive health, child health services and female education. Also, girl education will be free up to the university level.

Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Government will spend more than Rs 1,000 crore annually to implement the policy and the 38 departments will bring amendments in their rules to align them with the policy.

Noting that there is a huge mismatch in the population growth rates (between 2001 to 2011) in the districts, Sarma said while in some districts it is as low as eight per cent, Dhubri has seen a jump of 24.44 per cent. The growth in Muslim population in the western districts of the State does not reflect the same trend as in the growth of Muslim population in other states of the country.

�Population explosion is like a cancer cell. It is spilling over to the adjacent areas,� he said, adding while one society is suffering economically, another is facing a threat of losing identity.

Insisting that the House cannot deny the threat posed to the identity of the indigenous people due to illegal migration, the Health Minister also maintained that the indigenous minority community also should not be deprived of a modern life.

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