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Uttarakhand’s declining sex ratio exposes gaps in govt drive

Uttarakhand’s declining female sex ratio shows that the state government’s measures to stem female infanticide have not been effective

dehradun Updated: Aug 05, 2018 23:12 IST
Nitika Kakkar
Nitika Kakkar
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand News
A signboard displayed at a community health centre warns against sex determination at Raipur in Dehradun.(HT File)

Uttarakhand’s declining female sex ratio shows that the state government’s measures to stem female infanticide have not been effective.

In 2017-18, 904 baby girls were born in the state in comparison to every 1000 male children, according to the health department data. In 2016-17, the ratio was 914.

Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Pithoragarh, Tehri Garhwal and Uttarkashi districts have registered a dip in the sex ratio last year. Pithoragarh and Bageshwar are the worst, with sex ratio of 866 and 895.

In 2013-14, tracking devices were installed in ultrasound machines placed at government hospitals to curb sex determination before birth. The step was a trial for installing the devices later in ultrasound machines placed at private centres.

Though chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat ordered in May for installation of the trackers at private hospitals, no data has been generated from those installed in 2013-14.

“We had got tracking devices installed in ultrasound machines at government hospitals. But there was no follow-up on that. There were signal issues as well,” said Saroj Naithani, the nodal officer of the state for the implementation of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act. “A few months ago, the CM asked for installation of tracking devices again. So the company which installed the devices previously has told us they will revise them for us now.”

Hospitals in the state are also supposed to send regular updates to the health department regarding the number of F forms filled. This form has to be filled by a woman going for an ultrasound. Naithani said the department is getting data from government and private health centres, but there has been no analysis.

“We have a website where we are receiving form F data, but it hasn’t been analysed for the past few years. It mostly has to happen at the district level. I’m planning to get the analysis done in the next 15-20 days. Let’s see what comes out of it,” she said.

“While we have the data, no one from the State Inspection Monitoring Committee has gone to inspect for the last two years. I came back after a gap of three years and joined just two months back in this programme. We have the feedback, now we will go and do the needful.”

In all, 169 ultrasound machines are operational in Dehradun district -- 24 in 13 government hospitals and 145 in 101 private centres. From January to June this year, the health department of the district received 63,472 F forms -- 13,824 from government hospitals and 49,648 from private centres. This hints at a possibility of privately operated ultrasound machines providing lesser data than the actual number of cases.

The health department has now decided to conduct sting operations and book those going for sex determination. “Through this move we also plan to target the centres where sex determination of unborn babies is taking place,” Naithani said.

But a diagnostic centre booked under the PCPNDT Act continues to be operational. The centre, situated at Haridwar Road in Dehradun, had been booked under the act in 2014 for illegal sex determination. The centre resumed its operations and was booked again in January this year for the same offence. The owner of the diagnostic centre, Dr Pramod Tyagi, said “It (the centre) is currently operational.”

Asked about the matter, Naithani said, “I will look into it.”

First Published: Aug 05, 2018 23:12 IST