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Mumbai: A Pune-based doctor couple on advisory committees to implement the anti-sex determination Act has been found to be violating the rules. The state government’s crackdown on ultrasound clinics not conforming to the law has yielded more than a fistful of surprises—some government hospitals and other successful doctors, too, have been found in violation of the rules.
Public health minister Suresh Shetty said the administration was shocked at the number of successful doctors found violating the Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act or PCPNDT Act. Any violation of the law attracts maximum three years’ jail time and a fine of up to Rs 10,000.
The most surprising case perhaps came from Pune. Officials recently sealed equipment registered in the name of Dr Rajiv Yerwadekar, who is on the National Supervisory Board for PCPNDT. His wife, Dr Vidya Yerwadekar, is the daughter of Symbiosis Institute founder S B Majumdar and a member of an advisory committee on PCPNDT created by the Pune Municipal Corporation.
Rajiv called the action arbitrary. However, Dr Suresh Gupta, deputy director, family welfare department, said the couple had been “warned in the past” about their errors.
The Yerwadekars have been accused of not maintaining proper records and letting an unauthorized person to man the ultrasound machine. “We issued a show-cause notice to which they (the Yerwadekars) replied arrogantly. And again, they did not rectify the errors. It was only then that we sealed the machine,” said Gupta.
The Pune surprise was just one of the many across the state. In Wardha, officials sealed an ultrasound machine owned by the Datta Meghe Medical College. In Pimpri-Chinchwad, an Employees State Insurance Scheme hospital was found in violation of the law. In Parli, Beed, the authorities found an ultrasound machine in a rural hospital that had not been re-registered; there again, a doctor couple with a flourishing practice was charged under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act after a female foetus was recovered from their fields. In Nanded, machines held by some of the district’s most successful doctors were sealed.
In a majority of these cases, court cases have been filed. Only in the case of Datta Meghe college, which is run by politician Datta Meghe, the health department is yet to take the matter to court.
Dr Arshad Gulam Mohammed, past president, Indian Medical Association said that since doctors maintained all kinds of records, it was not difficult to maintain some on tests done on pregnant women. “We are fully aware of the seriousness of the problem (skewed sex ratio) and it is perfectly in order for us to cooperate with the government. Except for a few black sheep, the majority of doctors do not conduct any kind of sex-determination tests,” Mohammed said.