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NEW DELHI — Eight women have died and 20 others were in critical condition Tuesday after undergoing sterilization surgery as part of a free government-run program to help slow India's population growth. A total of 83 women, most of them poor villagers, had the operation Saturday in a hospital outside Bilaspur city, according to district magistrate Siddharth Komal Pardeshi.
The women were sent home Saturday evening following their surgeries, but more than two dozen were later rushed in ambulances to private hospitals after falling ill. The three government doctors who performed the surgeries have been suspended, Pardeshi said. Long concerned with fast growth in a country whose population has reached 1.3 billion, India's government offers free sterilization to both women and men. In many cases, they are offered a one-time payment for undergoing surgery of about $10-$20, or about a week's pay for a poor person in India. Hundreds of millions of Indians live in poverty.
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