‘Assam women’s fertility rate on the decline’

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Cong slams Himanta’s ‘population explosion’ remarks

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, June 11: Reacting sharply to chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement asking minority community to adopt population control measures, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) on Friday said the statement was “unbecoming of a chief minister who is expected to be well versed in the demographic facts of the state”.

Marking the completion of a month of the BJP-led government on Thursday, the chief minister called upon the state’s migrant Muslims to ‘practise small family size’ for poverty reduction. He had warned that there would be conflicts over space for living in the future if the state’s population continued to explode.

The statement was made against the backdrop of eviction drives carried out at some places which drew criticism from some minority-based organisations.

“He said that if the population explosion continues, the Kamakhya Temple land will one day be encroached upon. This is unbecoming of the chief minister who is expected to be well-versed in the demographic facts of a state he represents,” APCC media chairperson Bobbeeta Sharma said in a statement on Friday.

The APCC cited the latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) released in December 2020, which said the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) declined across most Indian states in the last five years.

“The total fertility rate 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,” the statement said.

“Now, the same survey said the fertility rate of women in Assam declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 1.9 in 2020-21, which means the future population of Assam will only be less than the current population. Hence there is no question of an increase in population, as the data of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare show,” it said.

In the context of the NFH survey, the chief minister’s remark on ‘population explosion’ in Assam was misinformed and misleading, the statement further said.

“But if he is referring to the population explosion that may happen in future due to immigration of people from Bangladesh and Pakistan because of the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, then his concern is perhaps valid,” it added.

Continuing with the sarcastic attack, the party assured the CM that it would take definite steps and do its best to save Kamakhya and his house from such encroachment.

Reacting to the statement, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) also slammed the chief minister and said that he should work on controlling it and finding out the reason.

“Instead of saying that a particular community has more children, the CM should work on controlling it and find out the reason.” AIUDF spokesperson Aminul Islam said.’

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