Grappling with a drasticilally low sex ratio in many villages, the Himachal government is feeling helpless of sorts in curbing female foeticide, saying the neighbouring state of Punjab was not helping despite requests.
Alarmed as the child sex ratio (0-6 years) in at least 24 panchayats of Una district, which borders Punjab, fell to below 500 in the last two years, additional chief secretary Vineet Chawdhary last month shot off a letter to the Punjab government, asking it to swoop on illegal abortion clinics.
The Himachal government suspects that illegal abortion clinics in Nangal and Hoshiarpur were an easy service for women from Himachal to avail to terminate their female foetuses.
In two gram panchayatas of Una, the sex ratio is 111 and 167 respectively.
"It's sad that Punjab government is not co-operating with us… it (protecing girls) is a social cause. We had written to them (Punjab), bur ironically there has been no reply so far," Health minister Kaul Singh Thakur, who returned home after undergoing a heart surgery at a private hospital in Chandigarh on Wednesday, told the Hindustan Times.
The overall sex ratio in Una - 875 /1,000- is also the lowest in Himachal Pradesh.
According to reports, mobile vans fitted with ultrasound equipment clandestinely visit rural areas to conduct sex determination tests, and later the babies are aborted.
The declining sex ratio has left the state red-faced as last year the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the chief secretary.
The Supreme Court also took cognisance of the alarming situation.
Later, the government asked the health department to keep a strict vigil on diagnostic centres and clinics equipped with ultrasound facilities (there are about 260 ultrasound machines fitted in government as well as private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes).
The government also announced incentives for panchayats and promised to reward the ones that had the highest sex ration and cut grants of those with the lowest.