Following in the footsteps of its urban areas, even the Naxal-affected, tribal dominated belts of Chhattisgarh have recorded a significant fall in child sex ratio
Violence and inaccessibility are no barriers when it comes to sex selection technology, if the provisional Census figures for Chhattisgarh are any indication.
A falling child sex ratio across the State suggests that ultrasound machines have made inroads into the left wing extremism (LWE) affected tribal belts which the government machinery finds difficult to access. Though there are no public services like schools and health facilities available in some of these areas, private health clinics having ultrasound machines seem to be flourishing.
The number of girls to 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years has dropped from 975 in the 2001 Census to 964 in the 2011 Census (provisional figures) with the ratio showing a sharp decline in urban centres but showing a drop in most of the tribal belts which are inaccessible for many others due to thick forest cover, difficult terrain and LWE. However, the overall sex ratio has shown a slight improvement with 991 women to 1,000 men that was 989 during the last census. The national average for child sex ratio is 914 girls for 1,000 boys and Chhattisgarh is better placed in comparison.
“The falling child sex ratio has not surprised me. It was within two years of the 2001 Census that we had drawn the attention of the State government towards the increasing trend of sex selective abortions but it was in a denial mode and continues to be so even now,” Sabu George, civil society activist who works on girl child, told The Hindu.
Warning that the coming years would be even worse, Mr. George said violence and failure of the government to counter the unscrupulous elements were the two main reasons for the present state of affairs. “While violence impacts women and children the most, the government’s inability to implement regulations adds to it,” he said while pointing out that the State government did not register ultrasound machines even in cities like Raipur and Bilaspur until two years ago.
“Expecting registration of these machines as required under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique (PC&PNDT) Act in remote areas is unthinkable,” Mr. George added.
Child sex ratio saw a drastic decline in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Assam in the post-violence years.
The urban rural divide in the child sex ratio is distinct with 972 girls for every 1,000 boys in the rural areas which fell to 932 in the urban areas. Of the 18 districts in Chhattisgarh, only one has shown an increase in the child sex ratio, two have reported no change and the remaining have shown a decline. Child sex ratio in Kabeerdham was 970 in 2001 while it has gone up to 973 now. Uttar Bastar Kanker and Raipur have remained steady at 975 and 965 respectively. In all other districts, there has been a decline, more in the urban areas than rural.
The overall picture shows that the northern part of Chhattisgarh — Koriya, Surguja, and Raigarh — have a child sex ratio of less than 910 in the urban centres while in the deep southern pocket, Bijapur is also in the same category. “It is the northern districts that one needs to worry about. These could go the Haryana way,” said Dr. Satish Agnihotri, a senior bureaucrat who has been working in this field since 1994. However, he said that Bijapur was surprising and needs to be studied in depth.
The saga of missing girl child from the industrialised and better developed districts in Chhattisgarh can be attributed to the national trend but what has surprised demographers is the vanishing of girl child from the remote areas.