Border villages in Punjab have low sex ratio

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Amritsar, Sep 20: A number of village situated along the 553 km long Indo-Pakistan border besides lacking basic facilities have a very low sex ratio Valtoha Block of Tarn Taran district situated near the international Indo-Pak border has a low sex-ratio of 865 which is far below the state ratio of 874 female childs to every 1000 male childs.

In some villages it is as low as 660 females and this is a matter of concern for the government. Perhaps one reason for this could be the lack of education facilities in the border areas.

Besides the low sex ratio the Valtoha area lacks alomost all basic facailites and could well be one of the most backwards areas of Punjab. The area lacks health facilities, is way behind in literacy and education and then there is the problem of drinking water and lack of irrigation facilities. .

These findings have been revealed in a Planning and Development report of the Block after an exhaustive survey conducted by Mr Balwinder Singh, Reader in Guru Ramdas School of Planning of the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU).

The report was recently submitted to Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal by university Vice Chancellor Jairup Singh. The Chief Minister has suggested for the collection of more data to strengthen the economic productivity component of the survey.

Dr Balwinder Singh said that Dr J S Bajaj, Vice-Chairman of Punjab State Planning Board in this meeting evaluated the planning report minutely and gave his valuable suggestions which would be incorporated in the community survey.

Referring to the low sex ratio, Dr Balwinder Singh said besides the lack of educational facilities, there seems to a preference for the male child as is common through out Punjab. " However this preference could stem from the fact that life in the border areas of the state is difficult and only males could cope up with this", he said while pointing out that there are no ultra sound machines for determining the sex of a child in Valtoha town and residents normally avail of such facilities in the district headquarter towns.

This block consists of 58 villages out of which four villages are uninhabitated. The total population of the block is 80,291 as per 2001 census.

The block has one of the lowest literacy rate of 34.8 per cent in Punjab. The adjoining blocks of Bhikiwind and Patti have a literacy rate of about 43 per cent.

The reports points out that being a border block it has locational disadvantage and the government should provide special concessions for development. Well connected by rail and road with Amritsar, it has great potential for socio-economic development.

The report has observed there is no ecological degradation in the area despite bad drainage or salinity. Eleven villages of the block are affected by floods from Sutlej river.

Referring to the poor health facilities, the report said that 41 villages had no health sub-centre and the residents of the area are dependent on quacks. Preliminary survey revealed that 27 villages had no chemist shop.

Regarding literacy and education, the report said that overall literacy rate in the block is as low as 41 per cent compared to 69.9 per cent in the state. The literacy rate in Jhggian Kalu village is just 4.8 per cent.

There is no degree college in the area and students have to travel an average distance of 32 kilometer for higher education.

Establishments of a girl's degree college with good connectivity was urgently needed, the report suggested.

The block also lacks Vocational Training Centres such as ITIs and Polytechnics. Twenty-nine primary and 17 middle schools have no headmaster and just 14 primary schools out of 38 have toilet facilities for girls.Buildings of 50 per cent primary school need immediate repairs.

The survey revealed that canals that enter this block from the Patti area needed to be repaired and cleaned as water does not reach the border villages. The agriculture land in 19 villages are on the Pakistan side of the border fence and the owners face a great deal of problems in cultivating and irrigating their land.


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