Eschewed sex ratio and a spate of female foeticide cases may have forced the Haryana government to crack the whip against illegal sex determination centres, but it has made several cities of Punjab a ‘safe haven’ for illegal prenatal scanning for the neighbouring state.
The health department team of the Haryana government conducted at least 22 raids during the past two years in different districts of Punjab where illegal scan centres were detected.
The recent raid on Ratan Hospital in the city by a team of health department officials from Ambala exposed as to how the health officials in Punjab have failed to act against such centres that are flouting norms with impunity. While the hospital was authorised for operating one scanning machine, it had another unauthorised machine.
Dr Vipan Bhandari, nodal officer of prenatal detection techniques (PNDT) in Ambala who was also a part of team that conducted raid in Ludhiana hospital on April 11 said that after the launch of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ in Haryana, a strict action is taken against unauthorised centres conducting sex determination.
He said that in Haryana, information regarding any unauthorised scanning centre is shared with the chief minister office, letting to immediate permission for raid to the authorities concerned.
Dr Bhandari also informed that he is a part of the team that conducts several raids throughout the state. “As a large number of illegal scanning centres have been shutdown in Haryana, touts of hospitals from Punjab are now luring people from our state,” said Dr Bhandari.
An Auxiliary Nursing Midwife (ANM) posted at Dera Bassi was working as a tout for Ratan hospital. After the civil surgeon of Ambala came to know about the issue, he along with the deputy commissioner of the district sent a decoy patient along with a health team to Ratan Hospital.
“The business of illegal scan centres work on networking. Touts in Haryana hospitals are in constant touch with their counterparts in Punjab. Any couple wanting to conduct sex determination of their unborn child is routed to Punjab by agents as it is still a safe state for unauthorised scanning centres due to lack of action,” said a gynaecologist, based in Ludhiana.
As many as 22 raids on unauthorised scan centres were conducted in Patiala, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mohali, and Sultanpur during the past two years. “These raids were conducted by health authorities of Haryana,” said Dr Bhandari.
Dr Rajiv Bhalla, civil surgeon of Ludhiana, said that inspection of all 262 scanning centres in the Ludhiana district is conducted on regular basis.