Bombay High Court.

Prepare short term plan to tackle malnutrition deaths in tribal belt, Bombay HC tells Maharashtra

Mumbai, Dec 20 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the Maharashtra government to come up with a short term plan to address the issue of deaths due to malnutrition in the tribal belt of the state.
The court was hearing a bunch of public interest litigations filed in 2007 highlighting the high numbers of deaths of children, pregnant women and lactating mothers in Melghat region due to malnutrition.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M.S. Karnik also noted that the tribal population has to join the mainstream when their health is in question.
As per earlier orders of the court, senior Indian Police Service officer Dr Chhering Dorje, also Special Inspector General, submitted his report on Monday on the problems faced by the people living in these areas.
In the report, Dorje sought for a comprehensive programme to address the issue of malnutrition among pregnant and lactating women and children living in the tribal regions of the state.
“There is reluctance and hesitation on the part of the tribal population to go to the government health centres due to their age old customs and beliefs,” Dorje told the court, adding that when unwell, some of them go to tantriks, and take proper medical help only when the condition gets serious.
The bench then noted that people living in these regions will have to start letting go of this reluctance.
“These persons may have customs, traditions and beliefs but when the question is about health then they will have to join the mainstream health system,” CJ Datta said.
The High Court directed the state government to go through the report submitted by Dorje and come up with short term and long term plans to address the issue.
“The report has been prepared by a very senior officer whom we trusted. Let the report not gather dust. We want a convergence of opinion by different departments of the government and prepare a plan of action,” the bench said.
It posted the matter for further hearing on January 3 and directed the government to come up with a short term plan by then.
“We hope and trust that the state government makes an endeavour to come up with a short term plan for the health and welfare of the tribal population of the state,” the court said.