Female foeticides: Maharashtra`s image takes a hit

Beed district has the lowest male-female sex ratio among children under the age of 6 in Maharashtra at 801 female against 1000 male children, according to the 2011 census.

Mumbai: The image of Maharashtra as a progressive state has taken a beating following the recent spate of female foeticides, particularly in Beed district, prompting the Congress-NCP government to swing into action.

Beed district has the lowest male-female sex ratio among children under the age of 6 in Maharashtra at 801 female against 1000 male children, according to the 2011 census.

The state government is consulting Maharashtra Medical Council, Indian Medical Association and radiologists to find a way to curb the foeticides and may consider shutting down stand-alone sonography centres.

Maharashtra Health Minister Suresh Shetty said a dedicated official stationed at Pune will co-ordinate with legal and health departments regarding violations of PCPNDT and MTP acts. Joint action by police and health departments will be taken against unauthorised MTP centres, he said.

In the last few days, 115 sonography centres have been raided and 22 sealed, while 403 unauthorised MTP centres have been raided and six have been closed down.

Authorities have sealed the Munde hospital at Parli, after a doctor couple running the facility, was charged with the death of a 28-year-old pregnant woman last month.

The woman, Vijaymala Patekar, mother of four girls, haemorrhaged to death at Munde hospital. She was into her second trimester.

Dr Sudam Munde and wife Saraswati, now in the hiding, thrived on illegal abortions for more than two decades. Women came there in large numbers, even those from neighbouring states Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Saraswati Munde would carry out the sonography and write down the numbers 16 or 19 on the files; 16 denoted a boy and 19 a girl. Women with 19 inscribed in their files were sent straight to Sudam Munde for the foetus to be aborted.

Locals in Parli say the aborted foetuses were very often fed to dogs. Over two dozen abortions were carried out every day in the clinic alone, they said.

The state government has directed the Food and Drug Administration to keep a watch over the sale of the drugs required for the medical termination of pregnancies and that it must take strict action against chemists who are found indulging in illegal or unwarranted sales of MTP drugs.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has also initiated action against sonography centres in Mumbai involved in sex determination tests.

BMC executive health officer Dr Anil Bandiwadekar has directed medical officers to constitute 24 teams to start identifying clinics indulging in sex determination tests. Mumbai has about 400 MTP and 1,339 sonography centres.

The state government has formed district-level squads to curb female foeticide cases. The directive was issued by Chief Secretary Jayantkumar Banthia, after discussions with senior health and police officials on recent cases of female foeticides in Beed, Solapur and Latur districts.

The squads comprise officials from police, revenue and health departments and will conduct inspection of sonography centres and abortion clinics.

FDA has been asked to act against chemists who sold medicines used in abortion without proper prescription.

The Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan in Mumbai, in which NCP MP Supriya Sule is a trustee, has announced to take responsibility of educating Patekar`s four daughters.