Even as courts remain shut on summer break, the Bombay High Court has fixed a hearing with top state officials on May 18 after reports of rising incidents of child deaths due to malnutrition and out-of-reach state schemes jolted the court into action.
“It is indeed shocking that when the core committee was constituted for coordination amongst various departments of the state government to avoid inordinate delay in implementation of welfare schemes framed by the government for the tribal population in the eleven sensitive tribal projects, it has not conducted any meeting for the last 16 months,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah.
Alarmed by escalating figures of children dying in Melghat region, the High Court has been passing orders from time to time. A report by the state Mother and Child Welfare Department, in Melghat’s Amravati, shows 500 children on an average die every year,as against its population of 3 lakh.
In 2013-14, the number of child deaths rose to 600 and in 2014-15 another 426 children died in just two blocks of Melghat. The petitioners informed a bench headed by Chief Justice Mohit Shah that the programme of child treatment centres has been almost dysfunctional. On July 9, 2013, the HC had observed the tribal population in 11 such areas facing non-implementation of welfare schemes.
Several issues required coordinated action among different state departments and in the absence of a regulatory mechanism, inordinate delay occurs in the implementation of schemes, the HC had observed.
The court, therefore, directed for the constitution of a “core committee” to monitor issues faced by tribals and implementation of welfare schemes in the eleven sensitive tribal projects in the state. The state was consequently asked to have the chief secretary as the committee’s chairperson, along with five principal secretaries from other departments.