DECODING UTTAR PRADESH POPULATION CONTROL BILL BY DEVANSHI SAXENA @LEXCLIQ

Uttar Pradesh is India’s most populous state with a population of around 220 million. Increasing population is a hurdle in way of development. Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Adityanath unveiled the Uttar Pradesh population policy 2021-2030 on World Population Day. The ambitious policy aims to bring down the total fertility rate among women to 2.1% by 2026 and to 1.9 by 2030 – from the current rate of 2.7%. The government introduced the draft of population control bill titled “The Uttar Pradesh Population (control, stabilization and welfare) Bill,2021” which will come into effect after one year from the date of publication in the gazette. The bill is currently available on the website of Uttar Pradesh government and suggestions are invited until July 19, 2021.

The policy will make efforts to increase accessibility of contraceptive measures issued under the family planning program and provide an appropriate system for safe abortions. Efforts will be made to ensure health services for all and pay attention to pregnant women, infants, and the children who are malnourished. According to the state government, the policy will also ensure care of elderly, better education, health, nutrition of adolescents of 11-19 years of age. The legislation would only apply to married couples where the boy is not less than 21 and girl not less than 18 years of age.

According to the state government, the centers and NGOs will distribute contraceptive pills, spread awareness about family planning methods through community health workers and ensure mandatory registration of pregnancies, deliveries, births and deaths across the states.Under the bill, a state population fund will also be established and it would introduce population control as a subject compulsory for secondary school. According to up law commission, the policy will be voluntary and will not be forced upon people.

The bill provides incentives like paternity leave of 12 months, promotions, increments, concessions in housing schemes, three percent increase in the employer’s contribution fund under the national pension scheme and other perks for the government employees who adhere population control norms. Those who aren’t government employees and adhere norms will also get benefits in rebates in taxes on water, housing, home loans etc. The bill also bars the people, who will violate the norms of the bill, from contesting local body elections, applying to government jobs or receiving  any government subsidy, will not get a promotion in a government job and his/her ration card would be limited to four members .Had the control population bill been already a law, 50% MLAs of Bhartiye Janta Party of the state would have been in violation.152 MLAs out of 397 have three or more than children. It seems that the BJP leaders have failed to see the irony in suggesting laws that they themselves do not follow.

The bill sounds reasonable. It is an attempt made to ensure there is a population balance among various communities of the state. It is necessary to control and stabilize the population of state for the promotion of sustainable development with more equitable promotion. However, some people will voice that the bill is a ploy to create a Hindu-Muslim controversy and a standard tried and tested polarizing election winning formula.

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