50% of affluent, 'literate' Mumbai wards still prefer boys
Though Mumbai commands a better sex ratio than Maharashtra and India's average, 50% of its wards have recorded a dip in female birth rate. What's surprising is that half of these are affluent and 'literate' areas from South and Central Mumbai, like Tardeo, Walkeshwar, Malabar Hill, etc. Gujarati-dominated suburban areas like Goregaon and Borivli have recorded the steepest decline in sex ratio.
BMC 2017 figures show that Mumbai's sex ratio stands at 936, same as 2016, and is much ahead than state and national averages of 878 and 900. But 12 wards out of 24 showed dip in female sex ratio, with an average fall of 30-50 points. Among individual areas, Tardeo to Altamont Road, dubbed as "billionaires' lane," recorded the maximum decline of 52 points.
Next were posh areas like Bandra (West), Khar (West) and Santa Cruz (West), which recorded a 48-point fall. Among suburbs, Goregaon, Borivali, Charkop and Poisar, already under scanner for low sex ratios, couldn't improve their image. While Borivali registered a 32-point dip, Goregaon fared similarly: in 2014, its sex ratio stood at 950, and now it's languishing at 914.
Experts said if sex ratio at birth is less than 950, it is below normal and since Mumbai has ten wards recording ratios less than 935, it's highly worrisome. NGO activist Varsha Deshpande blamed the lackadaisical attitude of the administration resulting in mushrooming of sonography centers in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane that offer sex selection services at anywhere between Rs. 30,000-50,000.
Given everything, BMC expressed happiness about the cumulative figures. "There was a time when Mumbai birth sex ratio stood at 913," said Dr Mangala Gomare, BMC's deputy executive health officer. She added some wards like Bhuleshwar and Pydhonie generally have low childbirth rates, compared to others like Ghatkopar and Vidyavihar. So drawing inferences from only these wards may not show the whole picture.
According to NITI Aayog, Maharashtra's birth sex ratio is 878 (2017), a decline from 2016 figure at 904. This is bothersome, given the fact that even Haryana, known for its skewed sex ratio, touched 950-mark in 2017 after 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' was launched.