Bombay High Court on Wednesday chose to give a dressing down to Maharashtra government over its failure to check the rising numbers of malnutrition-related deaths of children in tribal areas across the state.
A bench consisting Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice NM Jamdar reprimanded the state for “boasting” about its various remedial measures. The court observed that it was apparent that none of the measures flaunted by Mahrashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis government had been implemented properly.
The observations came after the court was informed that 180 children had died of malnutrition and related illnesses in tribal areas in the last two months.
“Stop boasting. Have you been able to prevent a single death? If you indeed follow the welfare state model, then you should be able to say that there are no deaths (because of malnutrition),” the bench was quoted by PTI.
It also asked the government if it was aware of the food and nutrition supplements being provided to tribal children as well as to the children in anganwadis.
The court added, “The children in anganwadis are being given masoor dal. Is that enough for their nutrition? You receive funds. Where does that money go? Should the public begin to keep track of such funds?”
The court was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations highlighting the rise in malnutrition deaths and illnesses among those living in Melghat region of Vidarbha and other tribal areas.
The court has passed several orders over the last two years, directing the government to ensure those in the tribal areas get adequate nutrition, healthcare, sanitation, and education facilities.
However, Chief Justice Chellur noted that the state government had done little to implement the orders.
The court has now scheduled weekly hearings of all matters pertaining to tribal welfare.
The healthcare in BJP-ruled states has been a subject of intense conversation particularly after the children’s massacre in Gorakhpur hospital, where nearly 300 children died due to no oxygen supply in August. The number of children killed at the same government hospital in Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s hometown rose to more than 400 in September.
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