Bhubaneswar, Aug 14 :
Shocking, worrying and revolting, to say the least.
According to the leading British medical journal, Lancet, as many as one crore female foetuses have been aborted in India in the last two decades.
Among the states that have contributed to the crime include Odisha, Rajasthan, Bihar and Haryana.
The 2011 census figures show a sharp decline in the sex ratio with the number of girls aged 0-6 years for every 1,000 boys falling from 976 in 1961 to 914 in 2011.
Interventions by the Ministry of Health through empowerment of medical authorities to tackle the menace of female foeticide and a set of stringent rules under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex selection) Act, 1994 (PC & PNDT Act) have failed to prevent the downward slide in the sex ratio.
However, there is a fresh bid by the Ministry to tackle the menace by stricter laws.
Under the proposed changes in the PC and PNDT Act, the government will empower authorities to conduct regular inspection of ultrasound clinics every 90 days. The designated authorities would include the additional director of family welfare at the state level, civil surgeons and medical officers at the district level and medical superintendents in talukas.
“The inspection report shall be preserved as documentary evidence and a copy of the same handed over to the clinic inspected after obtaining acknowledgement,” says the draft.
The proposed changes in the Act also envisage strict monitoring of sales and import of ultrasound machines, both portable and assembled, at the state and district level. The government will also seek quarterly reports from ultrasound manufacturers and dealers on sales of machines at state level.
As per an estimate, there are about 40,000 registered ultrasound clinics in the country; but many more may exist without record. Almost 4,431 ultrasound machines were sold in 2011 and the market is estimated to grow from about Rs 720 crore now to Rs 1,500 crore in 2015.
Going forward, once a complaint is received against a clinic, investigation will begin within 24 hours and must be completed in two days. No new registration will be given to applicants whose case is pending in the court for violation of the Act. The Act also mandates documenting each complaint in a diary.
The noose is also being tightened around doctors. The rules will make the state governments liable to submit details regarding the conviction and charges on erring doctors to the State Medical Council within seven days of getting a certified copy of the judgment.