Sex ratio at birth: Poor show by 5 districts sets off alarm bells across Haryana - Hindustan Times
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Sex ratio at birth: Poor show by 5 districts sets off alarm bells across Haryana

By, Chandigarh
Jan 11, 2023 01:26 AM IST

What has set the alarm bells ringing in the Manohar Lal Khattar government is the “disturbing dip” in the 2022 SRB of Hisar (904), Karnal (903), Kurukshetra (893), Faridabad (892) and Rewari (883), all of which had recorded an SRB between 903 and 925 in 2021.

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) of five Haryana districts in 2022 has slipped below 900 females per 1,000 males for the first time in six years, prompting health minister Anil Vij to take corrective measures to halt the slide that points to sex determination rackets becoming common again.

Experts involved in the ‘save the girl child’ programme say the practice of sex selection before birth has become prevalent despite near 1,100 successful raids conducted within and outside Haryana to bust sex determination rackets involving touts targeting pregnant women from Haryana in last seven years. (HT File/Representational image)
Experts involved in the ‘save the girl child’ programme say the practice of sex selection before birth has become prevalent despite near 1,100 successful raids conducted within and outside Haryana to bust sex determination rackets involving touts targeting pregnant women from Haryana in last seven years. (HT File/Representational image)

What has set the alarm bells ringing in the Manohar Lal Khattar government is the “disturbing dip” in the 2022 SRB of Hisar (904), Karnal (903), Kurukshetra (893), Faridabad (892) and Rewari (883), all of which had recorded an SRB between 903 and 925 in 2021.

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In a yet another low, the SRB of Hisar, Karnal, Faridabad, Jhajjar, Kurukshetra, and Rewari has for the first time slipped below the figures recorded in 2016 and 2017, after which there was a steady rise from 2016 to 2021, according to official data.

For example the SRB of Kurukshetra which was 924 in 2017-18 kept improving and suddenly dipped to 893 last year.

“We are concerned about the alarming dip in the SRB of five districts...I have given directions to conduct raids and check every facility having ultrasound machines...I will not tolerate this slackness,” said Anil Vij, health and family welfare minister, while speaking with Hindustan Times over phone.

Vij said he has given seven days’ deadline to the field staff in-charge dealing with SRB and warned that no health department official will be spared under any circumstances for the laxity.

SRB: From 829 in 2002 to 917 in 2022

Haryana in 2022, registered 917 female births per 1,000 males, a three-point jump over 2021 when the annual cumulative SRB was recorded at 914 against 922 in 2020.

The SRB is a critical indicator of gender equality, while the child sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) is considered in the age group of 0-6 years.

As per the fifth round of the National Family Health Survey (2019-21), the national SRB was 929.

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign from Panipat on January 22, 2015, the cumulative SRB of Haryana in December 2015 was 876, up from 871 in 2014. The SRB of Haryana was 871 females per 1,000 males in December 2014 as per the Civil Registration System (CRS) which improved to the highest so far 923 in 2019 and 922 females per 1,000 males in December 2020.

As per the data, two decades ago, the SRB of Haryana (including delayed birth registration) was 829 (2002), 814 (2003), 796 (2004), 827 (2005), 857 (2006), 860 (2007), 854 (2008), 853 (2009), 838 (2010), 833 (2011 and 853 (2012).

A year before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s save the girl child campaign, at least 18 districts had the SRB below 900 and this number came down to 17 in December 2015.

This number further dropped to nine in 2016. And in 2017-18, the districts with SRB below 900 shrank to four. In 2019, only one district (Bhiwani) recorded SRB below 900. But in 2020 two districts registered SRB below 900, while in 2021, there were three districts where the SRB did not touch the 900-mark.

The Muslim-dominated Mewat district has been the only bright spot where the SRB has been 916, 917, 918, 913, 912, 908, 918, 921, 939, 926, 936 respectively since 2012.

Experts involved in the ‘save the girl child’ programme say the practice of sex selection before birth has become prevalent despite near 1,100 successful raids conducted within and outside Haryana to bust sex determination rackets involving touts targeting pregnant women from Haryana in last seven years.

“After save the girl child campaign was kicked-off in January 2015, every month, senior officers from the chief minister’s office used to review the programme with field staff. This used to be a very stormy meeting...and it continued without interruption till December 2019. In past two years, only one video conference in a year has taken place on this subject. Lack of monitoring is at the root of dip as well as fluctuation in the SRB. There is no accountability now,” said an official involved in this campaign since beginning.

Health minister Vij said that on Monday, he held a video conference and gave “very clear instructions” to the chief medical officers to pull up socks. The health minister has directed the chief medical officers to form teams in their respective jurisdictions for random checking. He said the health department will have to wage a war unitedly to improve the figures of SRB.

“We are very seriously looking into this matter and are going to tighten the noose around those offering gender determination facilities,” said Vij, pointing out that in the NCR region, especially surrounding Delhi, clinics with ultrasound facility have been mushrooming posing a challenge to Haryana.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Pawan Sharma, based in Chandigarh, is Assistant Editor in HT and presently writes on Haryana's politics and governance. During different stints over the past two decades, he covered Punjab extensively for 10 years and before that judiciary and Himachal Pradesh with focus on high-impact news breaking and investigative journalism.

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