Maha govt seeks Aamir support to save girl child

Mumbai: Maharashtra government has sought the support of Bollywood star Aamir Khan in their campaign against female foeticide, a day after the actor had taken up the issue with Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. In a letter to Khan, state Health Minister Suresh Shetty, while highlighting the steps taken by the government in this regard, congratulated him on raising the issue of female foeticide in his TV reality show `Satyamev Jayate`.

The programme (`Satyamev Jayate`) on female foeticide has been able to generate an overwhelming response from all sections of society and will go a long way in complimenting the state government`s efforts to address the issue, he said in the letter. 27 doctors and four family members have so far been convicted with fine and imprisonment in 25 cases under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act in Maharashtra. Four doctors have been deregistered from the state medical council and names of 40 doctors have been submitted to the council for deregistration after charges against them were framed under the Act," he said.

In recent past, Maharashtra has seen convictions for advertisement, improper maintenance of records and revealing sex of the foetus to decoy clients, Shetty said. Maharashtra was the first state where the bail of four doctors was rejected during judicial proceedings, he said, adding that so far, 317 cases have been registered against sonography centres. He said the state was also first in issuing guidelines and providing funds to NGOs for conducting "sting operations on erring doctors."

"So far, 34 sting operations have been conducted involving decoy clients. Seven doctors have been convicted with fine and imprisonment for revealing sex of the foetus to the decoy clients. Other cases are awaiting trial in the court," he added. A special scheme has been launched for identification and deterrent punishment to violators of PCPNDT Act. Under the scheme, Rs 25,000 is paid to the informer (against sonography centres practicising illegal sex determinations). During the year 2011-12, the award has been given to ten informers, he said.

The Health Minister also highlighted various steps taken by his department to address the issue of sex selection, though he admitted all efforts have not yet had the desired level of impact in reversing the child sex ratio in the state. "However, a marginal change is visible in sex ratio at birth in urban areas where the problem has been more acute. The Centre has appreciated our efforts and made a deliberate endeavour to showcase it to other states through a special meeting of central supervisory board held twice a year under the chairmanship of the union health minister," Shetty said.

He said in the coming years the state government will continue to work harder for changing the mindset, improving implementation of the law and undertaking research to understand the rootcause of girl child discrimination so that future programmes will prove more effective in addressing the issue. He requested Aamir to support and associate with the government of Maharashtra for the cause of elevating the status of the girl child and campaign against sex determination.