Four days ago, dna was witness toMaharashtra director National RuralHealth Mission Vikas Kharge underlining for the visiting US second lady Dr Jill Biden how intervention had reduced malnutrition in the state’s tribal pockets from 35 to 15%.Yet this paper has found, that a whopping 171 children in the age group 0-6 have died of malnutrition in April, May and June this year in areas which are barely two hours from the country’s financial capital.
These figures with the Thane district health administration show that for the same period last year had seen 184 deaths with 141 from the age group 0-1 and remaining from 1-6. This year there have been 131 deaths in the age group 0-1, while 40 from 1-6. In addition, this year as many as 173 have been found to be severe acute malnourished (SAM) while as many as 3,403 have been found to be moderate acute malnourished (MAM).
Following the furore over the 258 malnutrition deaths in the twin villages of Vavar and Vangani in Jawhar tehsil in 1992, the state had started several special projects targeting the tribal pockets. In the last 21 years, the state has spent over Rs 2,118 crores on these projects.
The worst hit is the Shahpur tehsil where 47 children have died from April to June. This is followed by Jawhar (19) and Mokhada (18). It is not like the densely urbanised pockets with civic bodies have done any better. While Vasai has seen four children die, Kalyan has seen three.
The health authorities blame the topography, early marriages, malnourished and stunted mothers choosing to have more than two children, lack of education and awareness and superstition for the problem.
At the Thane Zilla Parishad which has budget thrice as large as Kerala state and five times as large as Goa’s nobody was willing to speak to DNA on the failure of the preventive and promotive projects to ensure zero malnutrition. While repeated attempts to reach CEO Shekhar Gaikwad drew a blank, deputy CEO R Shinde said, “I’ve relinquished charge yesterday. Please speak to S Bhavasar who has taken charge.” Bhavasar on his part put his hands up saying, “I won’t be able to comment since I’ve only taken charge yesterday.”
Activists like Indavi Tulpule of the adivasi advocacy group Shramik Mukti Sanghatna who is also a panellist on the state development board said, “The government needs to starts looking at malnutrition as a symptom of a larger developmental malaise affecting this region and work holistically with multi-pronged approach. Land is being diverted from agriculture and food crops on one hand and on the other people simply have no work. Even if you ignore the problems in the public distribution system, this means their capacity to buy food is compromised resulting in hunger and malnutrition.”
Maharashtra government has made e-auction mandatory from 1st of January 2015 in order to bring in more efficiency and transparency in the system of auction. In this regard state government has recently issued Government Resolution (GR) for implementing e-auction system in all government offices, urban and rural local bodies and public undertakings, with a reserve price of Rs one lakh or more. Its implementation will also help boost government revenue. At present, state government has implemented e-auction on a pilot basis in some districts and had received a good response. Currently the auction of sand, government land and Tendu leaves is done through e-auction.