The newly constituted Jansankhya Sthirta Kosh (JSK) (Population stabilisation Fund), an autonomous society of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, is to launch two ambitious schemes - 'Prerna' and 'Santushti' - in an attempt to rein in Bihar's burgeoning population with total focus on curbing its high total fertility rate and poor infrastructure for population stabilisation.
Executive director of the society Amarjeet Singh said the incentive based scheme would provide an opportunity for couples who fulfil specific responsible parenthood criteria to be entitled to receive rewards.
The scheme to be launched in selected districts of Bihar would reward couples for delaying parenthood and spacing children, with higher incentives for girl child born. Singh was addressing a consultative meeting on the society's initiatives in the State attended by top state heath planners here on Wednesday.
Singh said that under the scheme, if a girl was married at the age of 19, she would be entitled to Rs 5,000 as an incentive. The scheme specifically hopes to address the fact, that over 51% of girls in the state marry at around 15 and an overwhelming majority before the legal age. In most cases, they become mothers at ages 16 to 18- resulting in higher maternal mortality and low child survivals.
There are other incentives too under the 'Prerna ' scheme. If the couple ensures, that the first child is born when the mother is 21, the incentive provided would be Rs 7,000 for a girl child and Rs 5,000, if it is a boy.
Further, if there is a 36-month gap between the first and the second born and one parent is sterilised at the stage there is an equal incentive under the new schemes to be announced shortly.
The scheme, however, would initially cover only the couples in the BPL category, said the executive director adding that preference would be given to younger couples.
Under the 'Santushti' scheme, private gynecologists will be encouraged to perform a large number of tubectomy operations, for which they will be suitably compensated. The JSK would provide the funding through the district magistrate and encourage the private sector to join hands, said Singh. He also said that the State Health Society had already been entrusted the task to get the schemes on stream.
Singh, however, opined that despite commendable efforts made by the Bihar Government in the health sector, the infrastructure required for population stabilisation was still far below expectations. " One of the indicators for poor infrastructure is that 67.6 per cent of the population of the State has no access to contraceptives," he pointed out.
Others, who addressed the meet, included the executive director of the State Health Society Ravi Parmar and advisor to the Population Fund of India (PFI) RU Singh. The programme was organised in collaboration with the PFI.