Beti Bachao flounders in Odisha; 14 dists post dip in sex ratio at birth in 18-19

PCPNDT Act mandates medical audit of Form F, which is a key in letting the authorities detect the conduction of sonography for sex selection. But many vital columns were left blank to defeat the purpose of PCPNDT Act in State

Bhubaneswar: An alarming trend has come to the fore in Odisha. As many as 14 districts have recorded a dip in sex ratio at birth in 2018-19, compared to the 2011 census. The overall proportion of girl infants per 1000 male infants born in Odisha stood at 941 vis-a-vis 943 in 2015-16.

The State is lagging behind all its neighbouring states (West Bengal, Chhattisgarh & Andhra Pradesh), except Jharkhand.

Moreover, the nagging fact is all the 14 districts were included under the Centre’s flagship scheme ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’(BBBP) in 2018-19. The motive behind the inclusion was to implement a multi-sectoral intervention programme to boost the gender ratio in the districts.

Under BBBP, Odisha had received over Rs 31.8 lakh in 2017-18 to implement the intervention programme in the 14 districts. While Nayagarh was included under the BBBP since 2015-16, 14 other districts were included in 2018-19.

The worrying truth for the mandarins in the State Women and Children Welfare Department is the sex ratio at birth in the districts worsened after the 2011 census.

Sample this. Nayagarh had a CSR of 855 in 2011; the ratio in 2019 stands at 827. The BBBP is in force since 2015-16 in the district. The proportion in the district in 2001 census was 904. The numbers reveal an unabated dip in the sex ratio at birth in the district since 2001.

A similar trend is witnessed in 13 other districts in the State. The sex ratio at birth has shown a fall in Bargarh, Boudh, Bhadrak, Deogarh, Gajapati, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Keonjhar, Malkangiri, Nabarangpur, Puri, Rayagada, Sambalpur and Sonepur. All these districts have a sex ratio at birth below that of the 2011 numbers.

As per the data available with the State Health Department, Puri, the pilgrim town, with a sex ratio at birth of 904 females per 1000 male infants has fared the second poorest in the State. The proportion in the district in 2011 was 932.

A region-wise glance reveals that of the nine coastal districts, only three districts Ganjam, Cuttack and Kendrapara had shown an upward trend in the gender proportion at birth.

A total of three districts in southern region like Gajapati, Malkangiri and Rayagada had posted a fall in sex ratio at birth in 2018-19. Similarly, of a total ten western districts, five districts like Bargarh, Boudh, Deogarh, Sambalpur and Sonepur had recorded a decline in the gender ratio at birth in 2018-19.

From a total of four northern and central districts, only Keonjhar had reported a dip in sex ratio at birth.

Experts attribute the dip to persistence of large scale sex determination in the districts.

“Lack of audit by the district administration in the said districts has given a long rope to the sonographers from being caught,” observed a senior functionary at State-level PCPNDT cell here. He further explained that as per Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, medical audit of Form F is mandated. This is a key in letting the authorities detect the conduction of sonography for sex selection. They deliberately left many vital columns blank that defeats the purpose of PCPNDT Act in the State.