Staff Reporter

`Scheme does not address the issue of sex determination'

Rs. 234 crores allocated for Bhagya Lakshmi schemeCell to check the misuse of ultrasound machines soughtThe State has a sex ratio of 964 females per 1,000 males

Bangalore: The Budget presented by Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister B.S. Yediyurappa seems to have provided a ray of hope for the girl child.

With other States taking steps to curb female infanticide and foeticide, Karnataka has followed suit.

On Monday, Mr. Yediyurappa announced a scheme that hopes to improve the skewed sex ratio in the State. Under the Bhagya Lakshmi scheme, girls from families below poverty line, born after March 31, will be eligible to get Rs. 10,000 in their name. They can redeem the money along with the interest when they are 18 years of age. A sum of Rs. 234 crores has been allotted for this scheme.

But not all seem to be satisfied with this move of the Government. According to Donna Fernandes of Vimochana, an organisation campaigning against female foeticide, the scheme does not address the larger issue of misuse of technology by doctors and radiologists for determining the sex of the foetus. "Sex selective abortion is a matter of concern and the need of the hour is to check the rampant use of ultrasound machines.

The focus should be on allocation for better implementation of the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act to curb the menace of female foeticide," she said.

Monitoring cell

Ms. Donna said the Government should establish a monitoring cell to check the misuse of ultrasound machines for sex determination.

Mallige of Mahila Jagruthi, a women's welfare organisation, said Bhagya Lakshmi is an encouraging scheme, which will help girls from below poverty line families to fulfil their dreams and aspirations. "But many of the female foeticide cases happen among the urban middle class and affluent section. Allocating Rs. 10,000 for the girl child will not help improve the sex ratio in the State," she said.

Karnataka has a sex ratio of 964 females per 1,000 males and a child sex ratio which is 949:1000.

Another bright spot for girl children in the budget is allotment of Rs. 25 crores for giving bicycles to schoolgirls from rural areas who travel long distances to go to school.

0Girls from below poverty line families who have passed seventh standard and are enrolled in the eighth standard are eligible for the scheme.

An award called Kittur Rani Chennamma award for meritorious girl students who have got highest marks in pre-university has also been announced. Ten girls from each district will be given the award.