The BJP-led government in Assam has proposed a strict two-child norm in order to tackle the population explosion faced by the state, with Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma saying no person would be eligible for government benefits and engagements, including jobs, if the proposed norm was flouted.
“Persons will not be eligible to apply for government jobs, and for that matter any kind of government service including that of becoming members of the panchayat and civic bodies. Assam is facing a dangerous population explosion, and this is one of the several measures we have proposed in the draft population policy,” Sarma said.
He added that “families with more than two children will also not be eligible for various benefits under different government schemes”.
Sarma said the state’s population has registered a one-crore increase between 2001 and 2017.
“While the state’s population rose by 46 lakh from 2.66 crore in 2001 to 3.12 crore in 2011, a preliminary analysis has shown that it has increased by one crore in 16 years between 2001 and 2017. This increase is unacceptable,” he said.
Early marriage in the communities living in the char (riverine), tea gardens and tribal areas was one of the most important reasons behind this “dangerous” increase in population, Sarma said. “A very large number of girls in these areas marry between 14 and 16 years, while boys have been found to be marrying between 16 and 20 years,” he said. He also said that the government would ensure stringent punitive measures for those violating the laws relating to minimum age for marriage.
“This is a matter of concern because it has led to serious social challenges. That is why Assam urgently requires a population policy through which we want to make the two-child norm compulsory as one important measure,” the minister said.
While persons having more than two children would not be eligible for government jobs, government employees would have to abide by the two-child norm during their employment tenure, Sarma said. “Likewise, no person having more than two children will be eligible for contesting in panchayat, municipal and Sixth Schedule councils,” the minister said.
The government, meanwhile, has sought public suggestions on the draft population policy, which would be put up in the public domain, before it is finally placed in the state assembly in August. “Till now our effort to control population has been mostly through medical interventions. But what the state actually wants is a socio-economic intervention,” Sarma added.