DAYS AFTER Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his Independence Day speech flagged the dangers of population explosion, Congress leader Jitin Prasada on Sunday called for a law aimed at “stricter” population control and said that population growth is hurting the economy and posing huge challenges.
Prasada, a former Union minister and special invitee to the Congress Working Committee, told The Indian Express that the time has come for a “wider public debate” on the issue of population control as unchecked growth in population is posing insurmountable challenges. “People are feeling the squeeze at every avenue of their life,” he said.
“Population explosion requires urgent attention. The time has come,” he said. “Job opportunities are going down, our cities are already feeling the pressure of traffic congestion and pollution… drinking water is a huge problem in every village… all these are associated with population growth,” he said.
The Congress leader said the government should bring a law to put in place stricter population control measures. “There has to be stricter norms… a wider public debate has to be there… awareness should be created, people should be brought on board… it should be top priority…” he said.
Prasada said he will travel to every district in Uttar Pradesh soon to take the issue to the people and put pressure on the government. “I believe it was the Congress agenda which the Prime Minister has taken… we were the first to talk about population control…” he said.
While the Congress was silent on Prasada’s remarks, sources said a section of the Congress leaders believe the Prime Minister’s remarks was an indication of the government’s intention to enact some kind of legislation to control population. “The issue will have resonance among the masses… population control is originally a Congress idea. We cannot let the BJP walk away with it…” a leader said.
The Sangh Parivar has often spoken about “demographic imbalance” in the country and pitched for a national population policy which should be applied uniformly to all sections of society. Rakesh Sinha, a nominated MP aligned with the BJP, had earlier introduced a private member’s Bill in the Rajya Sabha seeking to enforce a two-child norm.