"The idea is, sentimentally, they would look after the jackfruit sapling like the daughter. The tree would also give additional income. In the guise of checking the tree, ground staff can also monitor the girl child periodically," says Suresh Kumar.
Attempts are also being made to create a sense of pride in the minds of parents over their newborn girls. The parents are given a certificate of appreciation signed by the Collector, days after their girl is born.
And the plan seems to be meeting with some success. "My husband wanted a girl child, and we have two now," says Amudha, receiving the certificate from Mr Kumar with her husband Chandrasekhar. "We will stop with this. We are excited about the pride girl babies bring," she added.
Under Mr Kumar, the district administration has also cracked down on foetal sex determination centres, which are illegal, and on child marriage. Since he took charge of the district a year ago, authorities have stopped 80 child marriages.
"When a child marriage is stopped, we ensure the girl gets good education. Also, her health and the health of the children improve," says Mr Kumar.
Cuddalore, a coastal district about 180 km south of Chennai, has seen a significant drop in its sex ratio in 10 years. From 957 females for every 1000 males in 2001, the ratio fell to 857 females for every 1000 males in 2011.
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