State fails to hold PCPNDT meets in more than a year: National team
Maharashtra’s health minister Eknath Shinde acknowledged that the meetings had not been held.Updated: May 17, 2019 14:40 IST
Maharashtra’s state supervisory committee under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Tests Act (PCPNDT), 1994, has not held its quarterly meetings for more than a year.
Headed by the health minister Eknath Shinde, this committee is expected to periodically undertake district-wise review of the implementation the PCPNDT Act, meant to prevent sex determination tests. The committee is also expected to keep a close watch on the sex ratio of every district and take policy decisions as required.
“The committee headed by the minister has failed to keep a tab on the activities and implementation of PCPDNT Act in the state. The committee has not met for more than a year,” said Dr Neelam Singh, head of the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) appointed by the Union health and family welfare ministry. She said that the NIMC will seek an explanation from the state government about the issue.
Maharashtra’s health minister Eknath Shinde acknowledged that the meetings had not been held.
“It is true that no meeting related to the PCPNDT Act at the state level has taken place so far. There were issues like a change in the council of ministers, elections, model code of conduct, among others, which made it difficult for us to meet,” said Shinde.
He assured that the health director and principal secretary will make sure that the Act is taken seriously and is given priority.
Dr Singh said that every state as per the PCPNDT Act is expected to constitute a state advisory committee headed by the health minister. “It is meant to act upon irregularities if found any; review every district’s work, watch sex ratio, improve the figures, implement the act strongly and work on policy decisions,” she said, adding that one of the important objectives is to develop strategies to improve the sex ratio and design activities to have a strong implementation of PCPDNT Act.
Anand Pawar, a health activist working in the field of strengthening the PCPNDT Act and women and child health issues, blamed red tape and bureaucratic approach for this lapse.
“The state authorities have always been casual in their attitude towards this Act and this has resulted in many illegal abortions and violation of the PCPDNT Act in the state. The government needs to work on their strategies before it is too late,” he said.