Appalled by the indifference of state governments to the implementation of the national population policy to tackle the problem posed by
rapid population growth that put dwindling food stocks under strain, the Supreme Court on Monday put their chief secretaries on notice.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justice P Sathasivam in a terse order asked the apex court Registry to send reminders to the chief secretaries of 15 states, including Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Rajasthan, UP, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Andhra Pradsh and Orissa. Only Kerala and Jharkhand have responded to the SC's earlier notice.
Appearing for petitioner NGO `Azadi Bachao Andolan', counsel Sanjay Parekh said that even states facing an acute problem due to demographic explosion have chosen to keep silent, and termed this as "worrisome". The court gave the chief secretaries 6 weeks to ensure responses from respective states.
The PIL, pending for the last five years, has sought implementation of the ambitious National Population Policy-2000 strategising a gradual reduction in the population growth rate.
During the hearing in SC on November 10 last year, it was pointed out that NPP implementation has taken a massive hit as India is saddled with five crore more hungry mouths than it was envisaged.
The NPP-2000, which set the 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, the population in the year 2008 is already 113 crore, as per the figures given out by National Commission on Population. This is five crore more than the average projection of population figure for the year 2008.
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.
Pursuant to the framing of 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. The court on Monday also sought a response from the Commission.
The PIL informed that India became the first country in the world in 1952 to launch a National Programme on Family Planning `to stabilise the population at a level consistent with the requirement of national economy'.
In 1976, a statement on the `National Population Policy (NPP)' was given in Parliament linking population control to poverty reduction. But, it took another 24 years for the government to formulate and announce NPP-2000, the PIL said.