Killing of unborn girls is on the rise in Himachal Pradesh and has attained alarming proportion, particularly in areas along the state border. In its bid to curb this social menace, the government has now decided to revamp the committees constituted at the state and the district levels for strict implementation of Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.
There has been an increase in the number of female foeticide cases in Himachal Pradesh, resulting in a steep drop in the child-sex ratio, despite the fact that the state ranks fourth in the country's human index ratio and boasts a high overall literacy rate of 80%.
The widespread use of illegal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child, which is banned under the PNDT Act, is the main reason for increasing of this social menace in the state.
The chief medical officers and the block medical officers have so far remained ineffective in keeping tab on clinics indulging in this illegal practice. What compounds the problem further is that the majority of the committees constituted at the block and district level are laden with representatives hailing from the ruling party, who have limited or no knowledge about the problems. They neither have enough time to devout for the proper functioning of these committees. And the trend reverses whenever there is a change of guards in the state.
"Female foeticide is still a serious problem. Our government has taken series of steps to curb this menace. The committees responsible for implementation of PNDT Act in the state will be revamped," health minister Kaul Singh Thakur told Hindustan Times, adding, "We, too, feel that there is need to include people who can prove effective in curbing the crime."
Solan-based non government organisation "SUTRA" in its recent report had pointed out that majority of the non-official members of district advisory committees hailed from the ruling party.
The report accentuated upon the induction of social activists and civil society members working in the relative field in the committees and boards related to the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act so that their expertise could be utilised to its maximum. "Moreover, since 2013, the state government has not appointed non-official members in the state supervisory board and no meeting of the board has been held since 2013," the report added.
Himachal Pradesh figured among the top 10 states witnessing decline in child-sex ratio, while Una was among the 100 districts in the country where the child-sex ratio was alarming. The situation was more worrying in the areas along Himachal's border with Punjab.
Meanwhile, the state government has now sought Punjab's help to keep tab on pre-natal diagnostic centres located in towns near the state border.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) last year had issued a notice to Himachal government over sharp decline in sex ration in Una district's 26 panchayats. The decline had assumed alarming proportion since the last two years with less than 500 female infants born against 1,000 male infants in these panchayats.
The data, reportedly, proved abortions continued unabated in the area despite a ban on sex determination tests.
260 ultrasound machines in state
There are about 260 ultrasound machines fitted in various hospitals, including government and private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in the state. Last year alone, 721 inspections were conducted in various districts by the district health officials who recommended cancellation of licenses of three clinics. However, till date none of these clinics have been prosecuted.