Congress slams Himanta’s ‘encroachment’ remarks, says Assam women’s fertility rate on the decline

Express News Service
GUWAHATI: The Congress in Assam criticised Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for his statement that if the state’s population explosion continued, one day the land of even Kamakhya temple and his house would be encroached upon.

The Congress said the statement was “unbecoming of a CM who is expected to be well versed in the demographic facts of the state”.

Sharing the data of a survey, the party said the fertility rate of women in Assam declined over the last five years.

The Congress said as per the latest National Family Health Survey, undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and released in December 2020, the total fertility rate (TFR) across most Indian states declined 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…

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“As per the same survey, the fertility rate of women in Assam has declined from 2.2 in 2015-16 to 1.9 in 2020-21 and 1.9 is less than 2.1 which means the future population of Assam will only be less than the current population,” the Congress said.

It said Sarma’s statement was misleading as there was no question of an increase in population as per the Ministry’s data.

“If he is referring to population explosion that may happen in future due to immigration of people from Bangladesh and Pakistan after the implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), then his concern is valid,” the Congress said sarcastically.

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.

Sarma had on Thursday 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.