Another setback: Hard-fought gains on sex ratio front at risk in Haryana - Hindustan Times

Another setback: Hard-fought gains on sex ratio front at risk in Haryana

By, Chandigarh
Jan 04, 2024 09:06 AM IST

Health minister Anil Vij blames neighbouring states for not cracking down on touts and those involved in gender detection

With Haryana recording 916 female births per 1,000 males in 2023 and registering a dip in the sex ratio at birth (SRB) over 2022, health minister Anil Vij on Wednesday said the flagship ‘save the girl child’ programme has been suffering setbacks due to availability of illegal gender detection facilities in the neighbouring states.

Health minister Anil Vij (HT File Photo)
Health minister Anil Vij (HT File Photo)

What has been raising hackles in Haryana is the unusual fluctuation in the SRB in the last four years. For instance, from 923 in 2019 and 922 in 2020, the annual SRB of Haryana had come down to 914 in 2021. It rose to 917 in 2022. The cumulative SRB of Haryana stood at 876 in 2015, from where it rose to 900 in 2016, and 914 in 2017-2018.

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Also, the trend of good performing districts taking a hit next year continued, as the SRB of 14 districts dipped in 2023 in comparison to 2022.

As per health officials, the SRB is a critical indicator of gender equality and better SRB leads to improvement in the child sex ratio (CSR).

As per the 2011 census, the CSR of Haryana (children below six years) was 834 females for every 1,000 males, while the national CSR was 918.

According to health minister Anil Vij, due to mounting pressure on the touts within the state “people of Haryana now prefer neighbouring states” to undergo sex-determination tests.

At the heart of Vij’s contention is the fact that last year alone the health department conducted 36 inter-state raids successfully and lodged as many first information reports (FIRs).

“This dip in the SRB is a matter of grave concern. Due to our vigil and efforts people rarely take the chance of undergoing and conducting sex detection test within Haryana. We have data to prove this,” health minister Vij said while speaking to Hindustan Times at the civil secretariat here after the cabinet meeting.

“The abuse of technology is rampant as portable machines are available to find out the gender...We will deal with this problem in the strictest possible manner. One of the main reasons behind the dip in SRB is the facility of sex detection tests is easily available in neighbouring states. Our worry is a lack of vigilance in adjoining states.”

As per official data, as many as 85 FIRs were registered in 2023 against 105 FIRs lodged in 2022 under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) and Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Acts.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme on January 22, 2015, from Panipat to tackle the declining sex ratio, the specially constituted teams of health department have so far registered 1,174 FIRs, including 365 FIRs lodged after inter-state raids.

Uttar Pradesh tops the list of inter-state raids with 183 FIRs, followed by 77 FIRs each registered after raids in Delhi and Punjab. At least 23 inter-state raids have been conducted in Rajasthan, four in Uttrakhand and one in Madhya Pradesh.

A raid is counted and an FIR is lodged if the accused are nabbed red-handed and machines used for the sex determination tests are seized.

Of the total 5,50,465 births registered in Haryana, 2,87,336 were male and 2,63,129 female.

Rohtak hits bottom, Palwal tops

As per the approved 2023 SRB data, the SRB of eight districts improved in comparison to 2022 and dipped in 14 districts.

For example, Rewari, Charkhi Dadri, Sonepat, Mahendergarh and Rohtak were the worst-performing districts where the SRB slipped below 900. Rohtak recorded 883 SRB against 936 in 2022, a fall of 53 points.

Palwal district recorded the highest 946 SRB, up from 922 in 2022. Among other top 10 districts are Panchkula (942), Fatehabad (934), Nuh (932), Gurugram (928), Sirsa (925), Yamunanagar and Jind (921 each), followed by Kaithal and Panipat with recording 920 female births against 1,000 male in a year.

From 934 in 2022, the Ambala which is the home district of health minister, the SRB came down to 919, recording a fall of 15 points.

In Hisar the SRB stood at 914 and improved by 10 points in comparison to 2022, Karnal’s SRB rose to 908 followed by 907 in Bhiwani. Kurukshetra and Faridabad recorded 906 each female births and Jhajjar’s SRB jumped to 905 from 893 in 2022.

The clear indications of stopping the female foeticide programme suffering a setback in 2023 emerged when the January to June cumulative SRB slid to 906 female births per 1,000 males. This was the lowest-ever half-yearly SRB recorded after 2016 in Haryana. The 906 SRB recorded till June had registered a 10-points fall in comparison to the same period in 2022 when it stood at 916.

Referring to these fluctuations in the SRB, the health minister said the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ has to become a mass movement to achieve the desired results. “I will appeal to all to join hands to stamp out this menace. I will particularly urge the religious gurus to come forward and sensitise people, while we will double up our efforts to nab those involved in this heinous crime,” Vij said.

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