Not only a massive of over 2.7k girl children are missing from Odisha for the last half a decade, the free-fall of the sex ratio at birth since 2011 indicates scores of them missing from the womb itself in the State.
Notwithstanding the launch of 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to drive away the 'Punjab-Haryana' syndrome from the country's landscape, Odisha seems to have caught up with the syndrome of late. The State now is ranked 7th in the dubious list.
In 2011, a total of 11 districts in Odisha had a sex ratio at birth below 950 (Note: A gender gap is considered acceptable when the proportion stands at 952 girl children per 1000 male children). In 2020, the number of districts had risen to 13.
Moreover, when the State average in 2011 was 911 girl children per 1000 male children born, the 2020-21 NFHS-5 data revealed a big drop to 894 girl children per 1000 male children.
This is considered big because in 2011 only half-a-dozen districts had a sex ratio at birth below 900. A decade later (2020-21), the State average itself has slid below 900.
The plunge portrays the 'missing story' of a girl child from the womb in Odisha.
Cuttack - The Live Instance
On January 18, acting on a tip-off, Cuttack police caught red-handed one Prasanna Sahoo while carrying out the foetal sex determination test.
The police investigation later saw tumbling out of eye-popping details. As per police reports, in the diagnostic centre, daily around 15-20 sex determination tests were being done. And for each such test, he charged a hefty sum of Rs 5000.
The above numbers disclosed by Odisha Police put the glare on many vital social determinants.
- The 15-20 tests per day indicate the demand for such illegal service in Odia society.
- The ultrasonics centre was catering to the demands from 10 neighbouring districts
- The charging of Rs 5000 hints at the economic conditions of the couples who rush to such diagnostic centres to nip the girl child in bud.
Moreover, another significant revelation is that the diagnostic centre has been running its illegal operation without a license for six months, which underlines the glaring loopholes in the system and lax implementation of the PCPNPDT Act 1994 in the State.
The recent case is just the tip of the iceberg. Here is the list of districts that have a poor sex ratio at birth in the State.
THE SKEWED DISTRICTS
Cuttack (911) ----------- 2011 (914)
Boudh (873) -------------- 2011 (978)
Dhenkanal (863) --------- 2011 (877)
Gajapati (901) ------------ 2011 (967)
Jagatsinghpur (910) ----- 2011 (929)
Khordha (909) -------------- 2011 (916)
Malkangiri (919) ------------ 2011 (995)
Nabarangpur (928) --------- 2011 (998)
Sambalpur (923) ------------- 2011 (940)
FEMALE FOETICIDE CASES
As per Odisha police records for the period of 2015 – 2020, the State had not recorded a single female foeticide case. The State Police had reported nearly 2-3 miscarriage cases over the years and one infanticide case in the year 2016.
“The State Government has a zero-tolerance policy towards female foeticide in Odisha. The PCPNDT department is directed to conduct raids and seal the ultrasonic clinics indulged in sex determination. We have taken up many programmes like Biju Kanya Ratan Yojana. Our programme ‘Kanya Sambhardhana Yojana’ in Nayagarh has helped in increasing the SRB over the years there. I will soon look into the details given,” said State WCD Minister Tukuni Sahu.
Why The Show Runs?
As per a senior functionary at the State PCPNDT cell, under Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, there is an audit form called F.
"Ultrasonic clinics deliberately left many vital columns blank to defeat the purpose of the PCPNDT Act. The consistent dip in sex ratio at birth clearly indicates rampant sex determination in the districts. More focus needs to be given on proper audit of the diagnostic centres there."