Assam Congress slams CM Sarma’s population remark

The Assam unit of Congress has slammed Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for asking a minority community in the State to adopt population control measures.

Marking the completion of a month of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government on Thursday, the Chief Minister said the population of the minorities needed to be in check to prevent encroachment and pressure on land resources.

“He said that if the population explosion continues, the Kamakhya Temple (Guwahati) 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,” Congress leader Bobbeeta Sharma said on Friday.

NFHS survey

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee 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 party said in a statement.

“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,” the party said.

In the context of the NFHS survey, the Chief Minister’s remark on “population explosion” in Assam was misinformed and misleading, Ms. Sharma 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,” she added.

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