After the National Human Rights Commission sent a notice to the Maharashtra government two weeks ago, the state faced strong criticism by the Supreme Court on Tuesday for failing to tackle the malnourishment crisis.
“You don’t bother when children die because you think it is a small figure in a country with large population,” said the Supreme Court after the state government’s lawyer told the court he had no instructions.
“Your state is not taking any interest. Do you think we are wasting our time and enjoying?” it said and also referred to the media reports of malnourishment deaths in the tribal district of Palghar which is 100 km from Mumbai.
“There were signs that these children were under nourished, what is required is multi-pronged approach, people have access to livelihood, people earn enough wages,there are government programs on health and nutrition that run optimally,” said Leni Chaudhuri, Vice President, Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation.
Maharashtra’s Minister for Women and Child Development Pankaja Munde refused to comment on record, while the Tribal Welfare Minister Vishnu Savara said the government is serious about tackling malnutrition.
“We acknowledge that numbers of malnutrition have been high, but it’s not true that government is not serious. You will see a difference in a couple of months,” said Mr Savara.
The Zila Parishad has claimed that 600 children have died in 2016 due to malnourishment in Palghar alone, as per 83,000 children, below the age of six years were found to be severely underweight in the state, according to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16.
While the state government is putting together a task force that will include mapping every child and mother’s health and regular monitoring, those who see their children suffer the effects of under-nutrition are hoping to get some timely help.