The Bombay High Court asked Maharashtra government on Thursday to provide food and nutrition on to malnourished children in Melghat and other tribal regions immediately to prevent malnutrition deaths.
Hearing a bunch of public interest litigations (PILs), a bench of Justices VM Kanade and PD Kode also asked the government to submit a report within two weeks on steps taken by it to tackle malnutrition in tribal regions.
Poornima Upadhaya, a member of a 15-member core committee appointed by the state to go into the issue, informed the court that the panel never met even once after coming into existence in March this year.
Expressing its concern, the court asked the committee to meet and discuss ways to tackle malnutrition.
On a plea made by Gayatri Singh, Amicus Curaie (friend of the court), the court also directed the government to pay salaries of cooks and teachers, pending since two years.
Upadhaya submitted that currently 13,300 students were found malnourished in two blocks of Melghat region and of these, 3,000 were moderate to severely undernourished. Upadhaya alleged neither do doctors visit tribal areas to fulfil their obligatory duty to serve in villages nor do they sign bonds, thereby causing loss of revenue to the government.
A post-graduate doctor has to sign a Rs 50-lakh bond, a super-specialist has to sign a Rs 2-crore bond while an MBBS doctor has to furnish a Rs 10-lakh bond, she said, adding the state never takes any action against them.
A PIL was filed by two doctors from Amravati seeking contempt action against the state and its chief secretary for not acting on the High Court orders to take steps to prevent malnutrition deaths while the other one was filed by Upadhaya herself.
A petition pointed out that in 2012-13, 475 children from Chikaldara and Dharni areas died due to malnutrition. Of these, 315 deaths were reported from Dharni. At least 200 'still born' cases were reported from these areas, the petition, filed by doctor Rajendra Burma and doctor Ravindra Kolhe, said.