To arrest the declining sex ratio in Jammu and Kashmir, the Omar Abdullah government has decided to add teeth to the existing Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Sex Selection/Determination (PC&PNDT) Act by providing three years imprisonment and fine up to Rs 50,000 for people running unregistered clinics and conducting pre-natal sex determination tests.
Pointing out that this will be apart from the use of “active trackers’’ to monitor ultra sonographic machines in both the government hospitals and private clinics, an official spokesman said that these amendments were proposed and agreed upon at a meeting of the State Supervisory Board (SSB) for PC&PNDT Act chaired by Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma. The proposed amendments aim at bringing the State’s existing PC&PNDT Act at par with the Central Act which also provides for the confiscation of equipments of the unregistered ultra sound clinics.
To ensure proper monitoring of ultra sound clinics and also to check “rampant misuse’’ of medical technology for sex determination, the meeting also agreed to have medical audit of the ultra sound clinics including scrutiny of their records in respect of all pre-conception or pregnancy related procedures by appropriate authorities at the divisional and district levels.
Speaking on the occasion, Health Minister Sham Lal Sharma, who is also the ex-officio chairman of the State Supervisory Board, called for seeking the support of civil society to deal with the issue. Pointing out that government efforts alone were not adequate to deal with this sensitive issue, he stressed on launching a massive campaign involving religious heads to educate people during sermons at religious places against female feticide, domestic violence and other crimes against women.
For this purpose, he asked Divisional Commissioners of both Kashmir and Jammu provinces to approach religious leaders in their respective areas.
Already concerned over the alarming decline in sex ratio in Jammu and Kashmir as projected in the 2011 census, the State’s Health Department has already sealed nearly 100 unregistered ultra sound clinics for their alleged involvement in pre-natal sex determination tests. Continuing its crackdown on such unregistered clinics, it has also announced Rs 50,000 cash award for anyone giving information about sex