Sex determination tests continue as govt. goes slow on monitoring mechanism


District PC and PNDT advisory committees not formed and online tracking proposal has been shelved

Despite ‘authentic’ information that several ultrasound scanning centres in the State are conducting sex determination tests, the State government is sitting on the formation of the new State and District Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC & PNDT) advisory committees. They play a crucial role in preventing sex determination and female foeticide. Their term ended way back in 2011.

What’s worse, the Health Department’s innovative proposal to use technology to link all ultrasound scanning centres and their patients in the State to the District Health Office — using a software called ‘Active Tracker’ — has been dropped before it could take off.

Deputy Director (PC & PNDT) Rajani M. told The Hindu that the plan was dropped as the central advisory committee felt “it would amount to intrusion of privacy of women.”

The decline

The decline in sex ratio in the State has been quite alarming — from 946 in the 2001 census to 943 in the 2011 census.

This has not spurred the government to put in place an effective mechanism for implementing the PC & PNDT (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1994. While the district committees have not been formed, the State-level committee has not met so far.

According to sources, although the list of members for the district committees were finalised almost a year ago, the Health and Family Welfare Department, the nodal agency for implementing the Act, has been dilly-dallying on formation of the committees. “The list has to be approved by the district in-charge Minister, after which the file has to be approved by the Chief Minister. However, nothing has happened so far,” sources said.

‘Choosing the best’

Ms. Rajani argued that the list is being reworked as “the government wanted to choose the best from among a panel of shortlisted members from various categories.”

The delay, however, has not gone down well with members of the earlier committee. “It is unfortunate that the government is not serious about such an important issue. With development projects being the priority for officials, we are worried that the declining sex ratio is likely to further dip in the coming days,” said Vasundhara Bhupathi, a former member.

Surprise inspections

Members of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, who visited Tumakuru recently, issued a stern warning to the district health officials to keep vigil over all ultrasound scanning centres in the district.

Commission chairperson Kripa Amar Alva told The Hindu that she had ‘authentic information’ that several ultrasound scanning centres in the districts of Tumakuru, Mandya and in north Karnataka are conducting sex determination tests. “We have also received several oral complaints and are concerned over the dwindling sex ratio. We will shortly make surprise inspections to nail the culprits,” she said, adding that she had asked the Health Department to include the commission chairperson in the State Supervisory Board.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 8:21:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/sex-determination-tests-continue-as-govt-goes-slow-on-monitoring-mechanism/article7905843.ece

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