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Pressure on resources lead to migration of people

Rising pressure on an already fragile eco-system in Rajasthan is leading to a significant migration of people from the state. The increased trend in migration of people from the state and the increasing pressure on the resources emerges from the provisional report of Census 2011.

"According to noted demographer Devendra Kothari, "Though population growth during 2001-2011 has registered the sharpest decline since independence of 6.97 percentage points from 28.41 in 1991-2001 to 21.44% now but in terms of absolute numbers it is a whopping increase of 12.11 million people. And as two-third area of the state is arid or semi-arid, this growing population is leading the state towards a man-made ecological disaster with extreme water shortage."

And in this mis-match of resources and an ever-burgeoning population, it is an inevitable migration of people. If Kothari is to be believed that has already started.

"The population of an area grows or decreases as a result of both natural increase (births minus deaths) and net migration (in-migration minus out-migration). During 2001-2011 though population increased by 12.11 million but the natural increase of population, estimated from natural birth and death rates, during this time has been 13.48 million. This difference in 1.36 million persons is what the state has exported to overseas and other states. This also explains why the average annual growth rate in the state's population at 1.96 is slightly less than the natural increase in 2.14%," he explains.

Kothari's observation is also supported by findings in the Census 2011. According to Subhra Singh, joint director, government of India and director, Census, Rajasthan, "In our initial findings what we have gathered is that one of the reason for the Ganganagar district to show one of the slowest growth rate at 10.06% is the migration of people due to water problems. Also, more and more males from the district are migrating to other places for work and that was reflected in the substantial increase in sex-ratio in the district."

The state while having 10.4% of the country's land mass and 5.9% of its population has just about 1% of its water resources. Out of the 237 water blocks in the state 218 have gone dry. Currently, almost all major cities of the state barring Kota are being fed with long distance water carrier system as the local groundwater is fast depleting and cannot meet the need of the growing population.

But it is not just water. Kothari says that the decadal growth rate at more than 25% since 1961 has adversely impacted food security, employment, water availability and access to biotic resources. "The increase in foodgrain production has been unable to keep pace with the increase in population and as a result the percapita availability of locally produced food has declined over the years. Even with excellent rainfall and long winter, the per capita foodgrain production has gone down from 2.41 quintal in 1951 to 2.15 in 2011," he says.

Even employment is increasingly becoming a problem with 10 lakhs people attaining the age of 21 years being added to the state's population every year. "Out of this only 70,000 are able to get a job in public and organised sector. The remaining 9.3 lakh are left to their own device some of whom fall back on agriculture, some start micro-enterprises, some get engaged in non-formal sector while the rest migrate from the state. The migration is more considerable in the southern and western districts," he says.

The pressure has equally mounted on the heath and education system with 15 lakhs children being added every year while pressure on biotic resources like fuel, timber and food is taking the state towards an environmental crisis."

The article was published on The Times of India (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/).

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