The Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Shri Ghulam Nabi Azad chaired the meeting of the Consultative Committee of Parliament attached to the Ministry of Health Family Welfare in New Delhi today. In his opening remarks Shri Azad pointed out the magnitude of the gender imbalance in the country. He said that between 1981 and 1991, the Child Sex Ratio declined by 17 points from 962 to 945. Between 1991 and 2001, it further went down by 18 points. As per 2011Census, there is a further decline of 13 points and the ratio now stands at 914 girls for every 1000 boys in the 0-6 age group. 22 States and 5 Union Territories have shown a decline in the child sex ratio since the last Census and in 50 districts the decline has been greater than the national average.
Shri Azad said the potential hazards of this gender imbalance are many. The adverse child sex ratio can severely impact the delicate equilibrium of nature and destroy our moral and social fabric. This could lead to increased violence against women, abduction, rape, and trafficking.
He said that the success of our efforts requires the whole hearted participation and support of professional bodies, civil society groups and the media. The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has already enacted the PC & PNDT Act for preventing the misuse of medical techniques for sex determination, both before and after conception. The implementation of PC & PNDT Act, however, rests with States and ensuring its effective enforcement further devolves down to the District Appropriate Authorities.
Shri Azad said 436 cases have been registered against violation of the PC & PNDT Act in last two years as against 789 cases between 1996 and 2010. To strengthen the hands of Appropriate Authorities, Government of India has notified important amendments in Rules under the Act including action against unregistered ultrasound clinics, regulation of portable equipment and enhancement of registration fees of diagnostic facilities. Inspections by the National Inspection and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) have been stepped up in the States of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab and Bihar.
Similarly, State Inspection and Monitoring Committees have scaled up action in States. A total of 69 machines were sealed in the past one year and 19 cases have already been filed in court. Capacity building trainings of Judicial Officers and Public Prosecutors have been conducted in judicial academies of Chandigarh, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. The Ministry is supporting civil society partners through Grants-in-Aid for enhanced community mobilization on the issue.
Under NRHM, financial support is being provided for building dedicated PNDT cells, both at the State and the District levels to strengthen capacities to effectively implement the law. Support is also being provided for intensifying IEC activities.
In his concluding remarks Shri Azad said the Parliamentary Consultative Committee is engaging with the topic of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Tests Act of 1994 at a crucial time, when the urgent need to tackle the social evils of sex selection and sex selective abortions is acutely felt and recognized by our society. He hoped that Hon’ble Members will take note of the serious socio-cultural and economic implications of the declining child sex ratio and help pave the way for mass involvement in ridding the country of this social evil.
Among the Members who attended today’s Consultative Meeting included the Minister of State for Health & Family Welfare Shri S. Gandhiselvan, Shri Shailendra Kumar (LS), Shri Datta R. Meghe (LS), Dr. Girija Vyas (LS), Dr. R. C. Dome (LS), Smt. Davidson J. Helen (LS), Dr. Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar (LS), Shri Muhammed Hamdullah A.B. Sayeed (LS), Dr. M. Jaggannath (LS), Shri Inder Singh Namdhari (LS), Shri Zafar Ali Naqvi (LS), Shri Motilal Vora (RS), Shri K.V.P. Ramachandra Rao (RS) and Shri Baishnab Parida (RS).