New Delhi: Describing female foeticide as a grave challenge for the country, Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday asked the state governments to act stringently to curb such illegal activities.

Azad informed that the Centre has decided to provide funds to the states for setting up dedicated cells to monitor the implementation of the Act for curbing the issue of pre-birth sex selection.

While speaking over the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994 (meant to restrict sex determination in the country), Azad said, “States like Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh are still to come up with a focused plan to inform, educate and communicate (IEC) the masses about the illegal act.”

Slamming the state governments for their reluctant attitude, Azad said that even though the funds will be given under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), few states have not even made any comprehensive IEC plan for effective awareness on the issue.

Talking about the success of the committee set up by the Centre for inspecting and monitoring sex determination activities, the Union minister said five medical clinics, three in Chhattisgarh and two in New Delhi, have been caught for indulging in such businesses.

Azad asked the state governments to set up such committee as soon as possible.

The sex ratio as per the 2011 Census has shown misuse of the medical technology for pre-birth sex selection. The impact is palpable as the number of girls in the age group of 0-6 years now stands at mere 914 for every 1000 boys.