PNDT committee defunct for 6 months, Delhi govt cites ‘grey areas’in admin | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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PNDT committee defunct for 6 months, Delhi govt cites ‘grey areas’in admin

Jan 25, 2024 05:34 AM IST

The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) committee in Delhi has been inactive for the past six months, causing delays in procurement of new machines and centers in government and private facilities. The proposal for reconstitution of the committee is pending approval from the chief secretary of Delhi and the lieutenant governor. The absence of the committee has affected the operations of diagnostic centers in the city. This has led to longer waiting times for basic radiology tests in government hospitals, causing inconvenience to poor patients.

The Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) committee, which is tasked to oversee the functioning of diagnostic labs in the national capital, has been defunct for the last six months stalling procurements of new machines and new centres in government and private facilities.

New Delhi, India-Aug. 1, 2019: Patients seen outside emergency ward building during protest by resident and junior doctors against the introduction of National Medical Commission (NMC) bill in Rajya Sabha, at India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital, in New Delhi, Thursday, Aug 1, 2019. (Photo by Amal KS/ Hindustan Times) (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)
New Delhi, India-Aug. 1, 2019: Patients seen outside emergency ward building during protest by resident and junior doctors against the introduction of National Medical Commission (NMC) bill in Rajya Sabha, at India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital, in New Delhi, Thursday, Aug 1, 2019. (Photo by Amal KS/ Hindustan Times) (Amal KS/HT PHOTO)

Senior officials from the health department of the Delhi government said that the tenure for the last PNDT committee, along with its district advisory committees, was completed in June last year. However, the proposal for its reconstitution continues to be pending.

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“We have sent a proposal for the renewal of the committee to the chief secretary of Delhi but we have not received a clearance yet. After the CS clears the proposal, it will be sent to the lieutenant governor for a final go-ahead. We do not know how long it is likely to take,” a senior official said.

The official added that once the file is cleared by LG VK Saxena, it will be upon his office to decide whether the procedure also requires the approval of the President.

Meanwhile, a Delhi government spokesperson said that many nominations into various committees were put on hold because of grey areas in the administration of Delhi. “The Supreme Court is yet to decide on the Delhi government’s challenge to the GNCTD Amendment Act... many nominations are being processed based on the prevailing Act. The file is in process and new members will be nominated soon.”

The PNDT committee, which is a governing body comprising representatives from the medical, legal, and social sectors, was formed under the PNDT Act 1994 to check practices of pre-natal sex determination in diagnostic centres. These district-level committees, which are usually appointed for a tenure of three years, are responsible for approving certificates for new diagnostic centres, purchase of new machines (ultrasound, CT scan, MRI machines etc.), and any expansion requests. The idea behind such strict scrutiny is to ensure that all pre-natal diagnosis in the city is registered and there is no room for illegal operations.

Diagnostic centres in the city said that the absence of the committee has severely impacted operations.

“Diagnostic centres will be allowed to function as usual but if you want to apply for a new centre or purchase a new machine, you will not be able to unless brought to the notice of the committee. In a city like Delhi, it is imperative that expansion activities are not impacted because thousands of patients are dependent on private labs to get their scans and tests done. We have put requests with the health department but are yet to get a concrete explanation,” said the owner of a diagnostic centre chain in south Delhi, requesting anonymity.

Experts highlighted that considering most government hospitals in the city either do not have basic diagnostic facilities or have defunct machines, it is critical that operations at private facilities are not impacted by bureaucratic delays.

“People who are the worst impacted are poor patients. Currently, because of shortage of machines, the waiting time for basic radiology tests in government hospitals is four months to a year. In many hospitals, for non-emergency cases, the waiting time goes up to two to three years,” said Ashok Agarwal, a senior lawyer in the Delhi high court, who has been representing EWS patients battling treatment delays.

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