Handheld, pocket-sized ultrasound devices used for gender selection continue to fox the health authorities in Haryana.
Imported from China, these machines are available easily in the absence of regulation under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic (PC-PNDT) Act and almost impossible to track. The state health department officials who have seized these handheld devices say these are cheap to the extreme, costing just `1 to 2 lakh per unit, compared with a static ultra-sonography machine that costs `25 to 30 lakh. “Besides, these are easy to carry and conceal, which makes our job all the more difficult,” said an official.
The machine operators charge `10,000 for each gender-selection test, and so recover the investment cost within a few days. Without regulation, the proliferation of these pocket-sized devices cannot be checked. Under Section 3(b) of the PC-PNDT Act, ultrasound, imaging machines, and scanners capable of detecting the sex of the foetus can’t be sold to any genetic-counselling centre or laboratory or anyone who is not registered under the Act. However, there is no rule about registering the importers.
In June 2014, the state government had written to the Union health secretary about the absence of controls in the Act on the manufacture, sale, import and distribution of these equipment. “After a racket of importing Chinese mobile ultrasound machines and their illegal sale is exposed, we ask for suitable provisions for registration of the importers,’’ the letter written to Union goverment health secretary had read.