Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bangladesh population pegged at 150.5M, compromising contradiction

SALEEM SAMAD

WORLD'S POOREST nation Bangladesh present population has been counted by a United Nations agency at 15.5 million on Wednesday, five-days ahead of when the world population is expected to reach 7 billion.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated country’s population, which is a contradiction to Bangladesh census announced in March 2011 the population of Bangladesh stands at 142.319 million.

The UNFPA in its annual flagship publication State of World Population 2011 also indicated the number of males and females at 76.2 million and 74.3 million respectively, and pegged the country's annual population growth rate at 1.3 percent.

Whereas the UN population agency in its 2010 annual report said the current population of Bangladesh was 164.4 million, which is 15 million more than the figure released by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, responsible for national census.

The UNFPA had to revise its 2010 population figure after Bangladesh rejected the head count figure.

However, planning minister A.K. Khandker said on Wednesday he was 'happy' to see the projection which were 'close to Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics'.

The minister, decorated war veteran said the population growth would lead to invasion of agricultural land and forests for construction of new townships if the explosion in human population is not checked immediately.

“Energy crisis, unemployment problem, economic problem, health and education problem, housing problem - everything will become more acute. There will be human abodes everywhere with no space to move freely,” he said.

According to the UN, the world's population grew to 1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999 and 7 billion in 2011.

Experts, however, say the world at 7 billion will be marked by achievements, setbacks and paradoxes as in some of the poorest countries a growing population stands in the way of development, while some of the richest countries are worried about low birth rates and ageing populations.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com