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The Hindu
The Hindu
Sonam Saigal

‘No child died due to malnutrition in Maharashtra,’ says Tribal Minister; NCP refutes claim

Maharashtra government on Wednesday told the State Legislative Assembly that no child had died in the State due to malnutrition in the past one year.

Maharastra Tribal Welfare Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vijaykumar Gavit said that as per information from the Women and Child and Public Health Ministry, no child has died in any  Zilla (district) in Maharashtra because of malnutrition.

Mr. Gavit was responding to a query by Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Dilip Walse-Patil that despite schemes available for tribal women and children, many children are dying because of malnutrition, and authorities say they are dying as they are premature and weak. He then asked, how many children have died due to malnutrition in the State?

In his response, Mr. Gavit said, “As per information shared by the State Health Department with my office, there is no child death reported due to malnutrition in the State.”

Leader of the Opposition Ajit Pawar objected to the Minister’s claims and told the house, “In the last one month, 18 children have died due to malnutrition in only the Melghat region in Maharashtra, and Bombay High Court has called it a serious issue.”

Right to Information queries have revealed that 283 children died in Melghat alone, and around 17,000 in the entire State, due to malnutrition in 2015-2016. A report by the State Women and Child Development department shows that on average, 500 children die every year in Melghat, against the population of 3 lakh. In 2013-14, the number of child deaths rose to 600, while in 2014-15, 426 children died in just two blocks of Melghat. This report was submitted before the Bombay High Court.

Last month, a Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and justice M.S. Karnik heard a number of public interest litigations (PILs) about an increase in malnutrition cases in the interior of Maharashtra, especially the Melghat region. The Bench said, “Maharashtra government to make all possible effort to promote the best interest of tribals in the State.”

(With inputs from PTI)

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