The Bombay High Court on Friday lambasted the Maharashtra government over the rising malnutrition deaths in the state. It also pointed out the lack of coordination between various government departments and asked the state to put a mechanism in place which would ensure effective implementation of policies to tackle malnutrition in tribal areas.
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“Several crores have been allocated for tribal development but nothing reaches them. State must ensure that food and supply reaches children. There should be better coordination between departments which is not there at present. Citizens should also take responsibility and coordinate with the government in implementation,” said a division bench headed by Justice V M Kanade.
Kanade also added that proper infrastructure should be provided for doctors to practice in such areas. The bench was hearing the PILs that had been filed with respect to malnutrition deaths in Melghat region and other tribal areas.
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Purnima Upadhyay, one of the petitioners, told the court that the quality of food provided in these regions is poor in nutritional quality and the healthcare centres have poor facilities with 50 per cent vacancies, and no steps have been taken to address this issue.
Several petitions had been filed since 2007 over malnutrition deaths across 11 tribal areas and in the last two years alone, 18,000 children have died.
There have been over 170 orders passed by the court in the last 10 years and the court had, in its last hearing, questioned the state over non compliance of its orders, warning that contempt notice would be issued. The court also asked for the chief secretary to look into this and submit a detailed affidavit.
Acting advocate General Rohit Deo asked the court for time till December 5 to file the affidavit as the chief secretary of the state is in the process of compiling the data of steps implemented and solutions going forward after going through all the orders.