Centre tightens the leash

Published: Monday 15 November 1993

-- Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that do not help in the government's family planning programmes may get debarred from receiving government funds. Since the beginning of October, the government has made it mandatory for NGOs that draw government funds to promote family planning.

The decision came in the wake of an unequivocal statement from a group of NGOs that they would not cooperate with the government in programmes involving controversial contraceptives such as Norplant and Depo Provera. The ministry of health and family welfare had of late been trying to ensure greater involvement of NGOs in containing the population boom and had allotted Rs 10 crore to NGOs working in this field. "We need the support of grassroot organisations," says Usha Vohra, secretary in the ministry of health and family welfare.

Meanwhile, women's groups have voiced their protest against the move to cut funds. "The government should not make it mandatory to propagate its contraception measures," says Asha Ramesh of the Multiple Action and Research Group. She maintained that though women's groups would spread awareness about family planning, they would also "educate them (women) about the harm caused by methods like Norplant".

Health ministry officials, nevertheless, claim they have received tremendous support from NGOs of different states for the family planning programme.

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