Una district has the worst child sex ratio in the state, while the district even figures in the list of first 50 districts of the country, where the situation is very alarming and warrants immediate intervention by the health and administrative authorities. Concerned about the gravity of the situation, the state government has decided to implement a multi-pronged action plan to improve the sex ratio here.
As per Census data for the year 2011, the overall sex ratio of Una district was 977 females per 1000 males, while the child sex ratio (up to 6 years) was at 870 girls to 1,000 boys. The ratio in the same category in 1991 was 923:1,000. This clearly means that there was a decline of over 5% females born during the last 20 years as compared to males.
Another upsetting data as revealed in the 'Annual report on the working of registration of births and deaths act and statistical report for the year 2011' by the chief registrar (births and deaths), government of Himachal Pradesh, is that during the year 2011, as many as 73 still births were reported in the state, of which 71 alone were reported in Una district, the other two being from Kangra.
A medical expert, not willing to be quoted, said that parents and conniving birth attendants wanting to indulge in female foeticide resort to aborting the foetus under three available terminologies, namely spontaneous abortion, incomplete abortion and still birth, all of which can not be contended in any court of law.
He said the chief registrar's report states that out of 71 still births, there were 40 male and 31 female foetuses, but said since an autopsy of the still born child is not mandatory as per law, it can not be verified whether the aborted foetus was male or female. He added that parents and doctors indulging in the illegal act, prefer to report the sex of the aborted foetus as male to avoid suspicion by concerned authorities. He further suggested that all stillborn foetus should be assumed to be female unless otherwise proved.
While Sandhol Block in Mandi district presently has the worst sex ratio at 829, three of the five blocks of Una, namely Amb at 882, Bangana at 887 and Gagret at 890 hold the 7th, 10th and 11th positions in the state.
Over the years, there have been reports of increasing cases of female foeticied in Una district, which borders Punjab. The census data provides more distressing data at the Panchayat level. In Una district, Amb Tilla panchayat has reported an astonishing sex ratio of 111, while Dangoli has reported it at 167. Sex ratio in some other panchayats is also alarming at Dohgi (286), Tanoh (273), Lower Basal and Dharamsala Mahantan (both 333) and Kuthera Khairla (318). Records also reveal that 24 out of the total 235 panchayats in Una district have a child sex ratio of 500 females to every 1,000 males.
Chief medical officer Dr GR Kaushal admitted that the sex ratio was a cause of grave concern. He, however, said the state government has now posted senior programme officer from Shimla, Dr Gopal Chauhan as officer on special duty here for checking the declining ratio. He added that an action plan has been formulated and will be implemented at the earliest.
The CMO said an on-line mother and child tracking system (MCTS) is functional and the expecting mothers get a unique computer code on her very first ante-natal checkup in any health institution. Under this system, the mother and the child can be tracked to one year after delivery, anywhere in the country and missing pregnancies will be deemed as female foeticides unless otherwise proved. He said from now on, every pregnancy will be monitored at the family, diagnostic centre and clinic level.
Dr Kaushal said a strict vigil would be kept on all the 14 ultrasound clinics in the district, while the social reasons for not preferring a female child will be documented and sent to the government for formulation of policies.