July 12, 2008

India Misses Population Control Targets for 2010, 2016

By Dhananjay Mahapatra

NEW DELHI: At a time of spiralling inflation and dwindling food stocks, the failure of the ambitious National Population Policy- 2000 to strategise a gradual reduction in the population growth rate has meant that the country has five crore more hungry mouths to feed than envisaged.

NPP-2000, which set national socio-demographic goals for the year 2010, said if its strategies were implemented, India's population, which is projected to be 116 crore by 2010, could be capped at 110 crore.

However, in 2008, the population is already 113 crore, according to the figures given out by National Commission on Population. This is five crore more than what the average projection of population had said it would be.

More importantly, it means there would be five crore more mouths to feed at a time when the government has banned export of non- basmati rice to avoid a famine-like situation, as has been admitted by the Centre in the Supreme Court.

This total non-implementation of NPP-2000 was brought into sharp focus on Thursday by counsel Sanjay Parikh before a Supreme Court Bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices P Sathasivam and J M Panchal during the hearing on a PIL by NGO Azadi Bachao Andolan, which seeks implementation of NPP in letter and spirit.

He said that though the court had issued notices to the Centre and the states in 2006, neither the Centre nor the states had responded.

The Centre, through additional solicitor general Gopal Subramaniam, said the affidavit was ready and would be filed by Monday.

Parikh said that pursuant to NPP-2000, the National Commission on Population was constituted on May 11, 2000, but strangely, it took five years to hold its first meeting - in July 2005.

Pointing to the failure of the ambitious National Population Policy-2000, counsel Sanjay Parikh told SC: "With the absence of will on the part of the government to implement the strategies suggested in NPP, India appears to have missed the targets set for both 2010 and 2016 in terms of capping the rapid growth of population."

Narrating the lopsided approach of successive governments in controlling population that could see India emerge as the most populous country by 2050, the PIL had said things have not moved in a planned manner though India became the first country in the world in 1952 to launch a national programme on family planning "to stabilize population at a level consistent with the requirement of national economy".

In 1976, a statement on the "national population policy" was given in Parliament, linking population control to poverty reduction. It took another 24 years for the government to formulate and announce NPP-2000, the PIL said.

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