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Population control: Uttar Pradesh working on law to limit sops to those with 2 children or less

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The Uttar Pradesh State Law Commission has begun the groundwork for a draft law that will seek to limit the benefits of state government schemes only to those with two children or less. The law is aimed at incentivising people to help in population control in the most populous state in the country.

The move comes almost in tandem with Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma‘s announcement that it will now also gradually extend norms of its existing two child policy to prohibit those with more than two children from availing state government welfare schemes. Currently, its policy places restrictions only on government jobs and contesting local elections.

Speaking to ET, chairman of the UP State Law Commission, AN Mittal, said the draft law which will be prepared in two months after consultations with the relevant stakeholders, factoring in of public opinion etc, will be aimed at state government programmes like subsidies on certain products and services, ration distribution, employment in state government services, and other state welfare schemes like affordable housing schemes.

A cut-off date will be decided for its implementation, Mittal said. The law will be implemented prospectively and not restrospectively, he said adding that the nine-month pregnancy room will also be factored in while deciding the cut-off date.

Further, it will not be “punitive” in any sense but a couple that decides to not limit their family to two kids will have to forego the benefits of the schemes, he said. The commission is studying existing policies in Assam, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, as well as those of foreign countries like China and Canada for reference.

“Whatever we lay down, will be within constitutional limits. For example, the right to education is a fundamental right, so the law will certainly not be applied to enrollment in state government educational institutions,” Mittal said. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, UP had a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.74 children per woman, as against a national TFR of 2.2 children per woman. It was second only to Bihar which had a TFR of 3.41.

The chairman of the commission which had also drawn up the Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion Act passed last year in the state, said the proposed two-child law will be different from the population policy implemented in 1976 which, he said, was compulsory, where teachers were not given salaries. Once prepared, the draft will be sent to the government which will decide if it wants to include more schemes under the draft’s purview or exclude some persons. “For example, the SC/STs in Assam are exempted from the twochild policy,” he said.

Health minister Jai Pratap Singh had last year spoken about such a policy being on the anvil that had sought to include the clause of debarring people with more than two kids from contesting panchayat elections. However, this was before Covid-19. Hence, the health department had to prioritise pandemic management over any other plan. Mittal however said the commission has taken it up on its own and no communication has taken place between the government and the commission on the law.

The issue of population explosion has been often spoken about by the BJP with BJP MP from Rajya Sabha Rakesh Sinha having introduced a Population Control bill in 2019.

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