The Bombay High Court has directed the Maharashtra government to formulate short- and long-term plans on a war footing to tackle malnutrition in the tribal belt of Melghat.
Hearing a petition,justices D Y Chandrachud and R D Dhanuka asked the state government recently to set targets to be achieved expeditiously in this regard. At present,there is no information available on the status of undernourished children and infant and child mortality on any government website.
Since governance has to be now in accord with RTI Act,we are of the view that steps should be taken by the state government under the auspices of the Collector,Amravati,to activate a system-based tracking of children and mothers in Melghat, the bench said.
A period of four weeks should be granted to the state government to take necessary steps. We direct that implementation shall commence on September 17.
Petitioner Purnima Upadhay,relying on a survey of Health Department in June,said number of children suffering from moderately acute and severely acute malnutrition was 3,431 and 561,while 10,047 and 3,798 children were moderately and severely underweight.
She said between April and June 2012,there were 81 child deaths (35 in Chikhaldara and 46 in Dharni),42 stillbirths and four cases of maternal mortality. The figure of malnourished children seemed to remain constant at 14,000 over the past two years.