To rein in indiscriminate sex determination, the Delhi health department is finally cracking down on ultrasound clinics by carrying out sting operations with the help of television channels.
The government has also set aside funds to reward informers who provide clues about the medical practitioners carrying out illegal sex tests.
Delhi health secretary Anshu Prakash with his team has sealed four ultrasound clinics in south Delhi after the radiologists were caught revealing the sex of the fetus to the parents on camera.
“Besides anomalies in filling Form F, which is a legal record of the medical examination, the team noted fairly major offenses,” said Prakash, adding, “There is enough evidence to nail them in court.”
The continuous fall in the sex ratio has forced the government to resort to this extreme step to check the growing menace.
The all-India figures reveal that the girl-boy ration has dropped from 966/1,000 in 2001 to 914/1,000 in 2011. The Delhi figures are worse — the sex ration has dipped from 868/1,000 in 2001 to 866/1,000 in 2011.
“One would wonder that the practice is restricted to rural pockets, but statistics reveal that the trend is more pronounced in the rich south Delhi districts,” Prakash said.
The Delhi government is also working on coaching public prosecutors fighting the violators of the Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act.
To keep a tab on the companies manufacturing ultrasound machines, the government has also sought a detailed monthly data on their sales and returns.
Meanwhile, the doctors are agitated as they believe that the problem of sex revelation of the unborn is acute because of the growing demand.
“There are at least 25 couples who come to us every day, asking for the sex determination of their unborn. If one radiologist refuses, then somebody else will do it. It is difficult to refuse business,” said Dr Nidhi Bhatnagar, radiologist at Sanjeevan Hospital in Daryaganj. Bhatnagar, who is also a member of the Delhi state inspection and monitoring committee of the PCPNDT Act.
“More than the doctor, the parents or the family wanting to the know the sex of the child should be blamed,” she added.
“The Act should be followed in complete fairness. If the doctor, who is falling prey to the greed is being penalised, then shouldn’t the person throwing the bait be punished also?” asked Dr PK Shah, senior gynaecologist and president, federation of obstetrics and gynaecological societies of India.
Doctors also feel that the authorities hold them to task for improper filing of the Form F. “The form is long and the filling process is painstaking. We have appealed to the centre to make it more doctor-friendly,” said Shah.