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Bombay HC asks state govt to prepare plan to address malnutrition in tribal areas

The court also remarked that the tribal population is required to join the mainstream healthcare facilities and the government should encourage the same through initiatives.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: December 21, 2021 8:04:04 am
The bench directed the state government to go through Dorje’s report and give a plan of action based on contentions of the petitioners and findings of the report.

THE BOMBAY High Court on Monday directed the Maharashtra government to prepare by January 3 a short-term plan to address issues on the situation of deaths due to malnutrition in the Melghat region based on the personal visit of senior IPS officer Chhering Dorje, Special Inspector General (Nashik range) to the region and other tribal areas.

Dorje, who submitted a detailed report, noted that there are early marriages of girls and reluctance among the tribals to approach healthcare facilities, and an inter-departmental impact assessment is required to resolve the issues causing malnutrition.

The court also remarked that the tribal population is required to join the mainstream healthcare facilities and the government should encourage the same through initiatives.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Makarand S Karnik was hearing a bunch of PILs on malnutrition among children in the Melghat region, including those filed by Dr Rajendra Burma and activist Bandu Sampatrao Sane, alleging that not much progress has been made to alleviate the suffering of tribals and that the region.

On October 4, 2021, the HC had appointed Dorje as its officer to study and report on the situation of deaths due to malnutrition in the Melghat region.

On Monday, Dorje, who was present in the court submitted his report on the difficulties faced by the tribal population in the Melghat area and suggested a comprehensive programme to address the issue of malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women and children in the tribal regions of Maharashtra.

“There is a need for coordination between the departments and we have to know why the locals are not cooperating. My conclusion is, it is not just the health department but other wings also should be involved. If the tribals are not cooperating, the reasons need to be ascertained. In Melghat, the health system is more dependent on ASHA workers,” Dorje submitted.

“These people may have customs, traditions and beliefs, but their reluctance towards health cannot be justified and they will have to join the mainstream health system. You (state) also need to explore what can be done,” the bench said.

Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni for the state government then said that Dorje’s report will be shared with all its departments and the solutions can be chalked out.

The bench directed the state government to go through Dorje’s report and give a plan of action based on contentions of the petitioners and findings of the report. “We would expect that in due with submissions of AG Kumbhakoni, honest endeavour shall be made to prepare plans, both short-term and long-term for taking care of the health and medical needs of tribal population,” the bench said, and posted a further hearing in the matter to January 3.

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