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NEW DELHI — The Indian government says it wants to prevent Indian women from becoming surrogate birth mothers for foreigners, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday with the Supreme Court.

The filing represented the latest development in a recent push to regulate an industry that has been booming in India. Estimates of the size of the surrogacy trade in India vary, with one study by Sama, an advocacy group in New Delhi, measuring it at more than $400 million.

Critics say that foreigners can find surrogates in India relatively easily, especially among impoverished women, and that this creates great potential for exploitation. Some experts, however, are concerned that banning surrogacy for foreigners would do more harm than good. “Our apprehension and fear is that the whole business will go underground,” said Manasi Mishra, who heads the research division at the New Delhi-based Center for Social Research, an organization that has published studies on surrogacy in India. “The bargaining capacity of the surrogate mother will further go down.”

In the affidavit, the Department of Health Research of the Indian Ministry... see more