With the sex ratio in the country worsening at an alarming rate, the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad called on a meeting of the Consultative Committee of Parliament to discuss the steps that could be taken to correct the problem.
In his opening remarks, Azad 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," he added.
Asserting that the potential hazards of this gender imbalance are many, Azad said: "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 wholehearted participation and support of professional bodies, civil society groups and the media.
"The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has already enacted the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Tests Act,1994 ((PC and PNDT) for preventing the misuse of medical techniques for sex determination, both before and after conception. The implementation of PC and PNDT Act, however, rests with States and ensuring its effective enforcement further devolves down to the District Appropriate Authorities," he added
He further informed that 436 cases have been registered against violation of the PC and 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," he said.
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," he added.
In his concluding remarks, 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 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.