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Gurugram has no cell to curb prenatal sex selection tests

Gurugram’s deputy chief medical officer says number of raids, cases registered under PCPNDT Act would be higher if the district had Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) cells.

gurgaon Updated: Jul 24, 2018 14:15 IST
Sonali Verma
Sonali Verma
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
Gurugram,PNDT cell,PCPNDT Act
Though only two cases of violation of PCPNDT Act were registered in Gurugram till March, 2018, the numbers would have been higher if there was a PNDT cell in the district, says a government official. (Photo only for representational purpose)(HT File Photo )

According to a report released by the Union health ministry on Sunday, Haryana reported the highest number of violations under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, across the country till March this year. Of the 387 cases registered across the country, 158 cases were from the state. The district health department data shows that out of the 158 cases, only two were registered in Gurugram. This, however, is not good news.

“There is no PNDT cell in the district. If there was one, the number of raids and cases registered under the Act would have been higher,” said Dr Sarayu Sharma, deputy chief medical officer and nodal officer, PCPNDT Act.

The PNDT cells are meant to ensure implementation of the PCPNDT Act, overall monitoring and assisting health officials with surprise checks. The government provides financial support to states and districts for operating these cells under the National Health Mission.

The Act was enacted to prevent misuse of pre-conception and pre-natal techniques for sex determination, prohibits the sale of any ultrasound machine or imaging machine or scanner or any other equipment capable of detecting the sex of foetus to persons, laboratories, clinics etc not registered under the Act.

“In Gurugram, two cases were registered between January and March this year under the PCPNDT Act. A case was registered on February 16 and the other on March 12 after raids were conducted by a team of the health department,” she said, adding that in the corresponding period previous year, a total of three cases were registered following raids at abortion clinics.

“There is a lot of illegal abortion activity going on in the district. However, the police surveillance is lacking. We have to rely on ASHA workers for information. A PNDT cell, which has more manpower and a proper set up, can strengthen our activities,” said a health department official, requesting anonymity.

Apparently, a PNDT cell has been in the making for three years now.

In 2015, the then deputy commissioner of Gurugram, TL Satyaprakash, had assured of a PNDT cell, but no such cell has been formed till date, health department officials said.

The current deputy commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh did not respond to texts or calls for response on the matter.

For now, the health department solely relies on the police for information.

Deputy commissioner of police (east) Kuldeep Yadav said, “We have informers in the field at multiple locations, who gather and share information about illegal clinics. This information is shared with health officials.”

Dr Sharma said that on the basis of information received her team prepares a decoy who is usually a woman police officer. “A shadow witness is also prepared and the preparations for the raid usually start two to three days in advance,” she said.

“The team visits clinics and checks whether illegal sex determination was being conducted and whether medical records were maintained properly. Cases have been filed after wrong practices have been observed,” Gurugram civil surgeon Gulshan Rai Arora said.

According to the health department records, from June 2015 to July 2018, around 30 cases were registered under the PCPNDT Act in Gurugram.

Punitive measures and awareness generated in the last couple of years have helped the sex ratio at birth to shoot up in Gurugram, health department officials said but added that the PCPNDT Act is an important tool to help improve the district’s skewed sex ratio.

In 2014, the number of girls born per 1,000 boys in the district was 843. In 2015, it was 875 and in 2016, it increased to 883. In 2017, the sex ratio climbed to 904. Till May, 2018, the sex ratio in the state was 957.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 14:14 IST