Sangli will soon become the first district in the state to install the Active Tracker (Silent Observer), a device that records sonography tests, after the Bombay high court upheld its use in Kolhapur in August.
The Active Tracker, a device installed in sonography machines, records the tests conducted using the machine and collects the data on a server. It provides an accurate record of the sonographies conducted to curb sex selection tests on unborn children. The device was first installed in clinics in Kolhapur in 2009.
Doctors from 289 sonography clinics in Sangli district have agreed to install the Active Tracker, said Sangli collector Shyam Wardhane. “We made a presentation to doctors about the initiative in November and the doctors have been proactive,” said Wardhane.
“Doctors felt that instead of everybody’s reputation getting maligned because of a few black sheep, it was better to install this device,” he said, adding that some doctors have already placed orders.
According to the 2011 Census, the child sex ratio in Sangli district is 862 girls per 1000 boys. Though this is below the national average of 914 girls per 1000 boys, Sangli is among the four of the 35 districts in Maharashtra that have shown an improvement from the 2001 Census. In 2001, Sangli’s child sex ratio stood at 851 girls per 1000 boys.
“Although the device cannot stop the practice of sex selection completely it will curb it for sure,” said Dr Jayashri Patil, who runs two diagnostic centres in Sangli. “We support the initiative because only the collector has the right to access the data.” However, unless there is a change in the mindset of the people especially mothers, nothing would help, she added.
The device, which used to cost Rs 40, 000 (equipment and maintenance) in 2009, now costs Rs 19,500. Doctors have agreed to bear the cost. “We spoke to the administration for discounted price and it worked out,” said Dr Patil.
Some experts said merely installing the Active Tracker would not help. “There cannot be a technological answer to this problem,” said Dr Kamakshi Bhate from KEM Hospital and a member of Forum Against Sex Determination and Sex Pre-Selection.
“The experiment was successful in Kolhapur because it was done on a trial basis. It won’t be possible to do mass surveillance and daily analysis if implemented everywhere. The focus needs to be on prosecution, conviction and severe punishment of the guilty doctors.”