09 June 2011
By Umesh Isalkar
"The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) tops in conducting routine raids and registering cases against erring sonography centres found flouting the PCPNDT (Pre–Conception and Pre–Natal Diagnostic Techniques) Act 1994. The PMC has registered the highest number of criminal cases against such centres since January this year," Mahendra Ahiwale, assistant director (PNDT), family welfare, state health services told TOI on Wednesday. Of the remaining cases, two were registered in Buldhana, two in Kolhapur, one each in Osmanabad, Beed, Latur and Aurangabad and two in Washim.
Of the 18 cases, 15 doctors were taken to criminal court. The rest three, 2 doctors from Washim and one from Beed, were let off after imposing a penalty from them, Ahiwale said.
"The PMC health officials involved in ensuring the effective implementation of PCPNDT act are self–motivated people. They have formed a separate team to work on the issue and conduct raids on sonography centres on routine basis. That’s why they could register the highest number of cases," said Ahiwale.
"We are conducting workshops and training sessions for all appropriate authorities, who are responsible for inspecting sonography centres and ensuring strict implementation of PCPNDT Act within their respective jurisdictions, periodically. They are being educated about the act, motivated to conduct raids on sonography centres and are made aware of various initiatives to check unlawful use of sonography machines in determining sex of the foetus," Ahiwale said.
At district level, civil surgeons, district collector and additional collector are responsible appropriate authorities, while in taluka level, medical superintendents of rural hospital, tehsildar and naib–tehsildar are appropriate authorities. In small town, the chief officers of municipal councils are appropriate authorities.
As per the provisional figure of 2011 census, child sex ratio in Maharashra is 883 girls per 1000 male children (down by 30 points since 2001). Maximum decline is in Beed district (93 points) and minimum decline is in Gadchiroli (10 points). There is a marginal increase in sex ratio in four districts of Satara, Kolhapur, Sangli and Chandrapur.
Since the inception of the PCPNDT Act, a total of 154 criminal cases have been filed against erring sonography centres in Maharashtra. Of them, 108 cases are still pending. Pune alone filed 34 cases, followed by Ahmednagar (26), Solapur (12), Satara (11) and Raigad (11).
"The worsening child sex ratio is due to social factors that have remained largely unchanged. The preference for a male child and unregulated sonography centres that carry out sex–determination tests are to blame. The fact that this ratio is reaching new lows shows that the efforts are inadequate," said health activist Anant Phadke of Jan Arogya Abhiyaan, a network of health–related NGOs.
People must be made aware of sex determination tests and the impending gender crisis. Advocacy of greater gender equality and increased awareness about the PCPNDT Act and its recent amendment that bans any form of sex selection tests is also necessary, said Phadke.