Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Government survey shows Chakma and Hajong population not increasing

The recent survey conducted by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh to ascertain the total population of Chakma and Hajong communities has put to rest the debate on the alleged rise in their population.  

According to the Special Survey Report of Chakma and Hajong communities in the state, their total population is 46,691 persons in Changlang district as in February 2011 (Arunachal Times, March 29, 2011). While the data of 2001 census show their total population as 35,390 persons in the district.  Thus, recording a decadal growth of 31.93 percent. The decadal growth of Chakmas and Hajongs was 31.48 per cent during the 1991-2001 census period. This indicates that the growth is less than 1 per cent (0.45 percent).

The above figure is only for the Changlang district, where the majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs are settled. The Chakmas are settled in two other districts namely Papumpare and Lohit. According to the 2001 census, the total population of the Chakmas and Hajongs was 42,333 persons.

While the overall total population of the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state is reported to be around 53,800 persons presently. This means that the decadal growth rate of the Chakmas and Hajongs has come down to about 27 percent from 31.48 per cent during the 1991-2001 census period.

2011 Provisional Census Data
This is a positive sign considering that some districts in the state where there is no Chakma-Hajong population recorded increase in growth rate. According to the provisional census 2011 data, the decadal growth for the Upper Subansiri district increased to 50.34 percent (2001-2011) from a low of 10.50 percent in 1991-2001. While the decadal growth of East Kameng district increased to 37.14 percent from 13.46 percent and Lower Subansiri increased to 48.65 percent from 29.15 percent. Surprisingly, the newly created district of Kurung Kumey which is declared by the state government as one of the backward districts recorded more than 100 percent increase with 111.01 percent in 2001-2011 from meager 6.24 percent in the 1991-2001 census.

As per the latest provisional census data, in Changlang district where majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs inhabit, the decadal growth has come down to 17.96 percent from the previous census period figure of 31.29 percent.

The popular debate and fear over the rapid increase in population of the Chakmas and Hajongs is far from the truth and hypothetical. The growth is normal and natural.

Backwardness, including lack of education, among the people is the main reason for increase in population. The case of Kurung Kumey district is an example. Access to education remains indispensable. School drop-outs marry early and contribute to the population. Although, the growth rate of the Chakma and Hajong communities is normal, opening of schools, especially higher schools, in their inhabited areas will further make them aware about the harmful effects of rising population. Presently, the drop-out rate of Chakmas is high due to lack of higher schools. 
The government has to act to alleviate the poor socio-economic condition of the people, giving special focus in backward areas.

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