A report filed by Attorney General Ashutosh Kumbakoni in the Bombay High Court stated that in the last three years, around 15,000 children have suffered from malnutrition in 16 districts of Maharashtra. All these 16 districts are inhabited by tribes. The mothers of many malnourished children were minors.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipankar Dutt heard the Public interest litigation (PIL) on malnutrition in the Melghat tribal districts of Maharashtra. At the last hearing, the judiciary was told that many mothers in the area do not know how to care for malnourished children due to child marriage. The court ordered the district magistrate and district collector to visit 16 tribal districts to find out the cause of child marriage.
A total of 6,582 children died in these 16 Tribal districts last three years, 26,059 were found to be severely malnourished and 1,10,673 children were found to be moderately malnourished.
Of the total number of children who died due to malnutrition in the last three years, 5,031 belonged to the Scheduled Tribes (STs). Kumbhakoni claimed in the court that he has successfully prevented about 1,541 child marriages from taking place in the last three years.
The report said that a survey was conducted by the district program officers and district health officers of the Zilla Parishad which stated that 26,059 cases of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) were reported in the last three years, of which 20,293 cases were scheduled. belonged to the tribe. In addition, 1,10,674 cases of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) were reported, of which 79,310 belonged to the ST community.
In 3,000 cases of SAM, the children’s mothers were minors. In the case of MAM, this number was 11,652. Other places where cases of malnutrition were reported to include Nandurbar, Amravati, Nashik, Thane, Palghar and Gadchiroli.
In the Nandurbar district, 1270 children died due to malnutrition, including 1189 deaths from the ST community. Of these, in 137 cases, the mothers of the children were minors. In the Amravati district, 729 children died, including 645 from the ST community, in 75 cases the mother was a minor. At the same time, 704 deaths occurred in the Gadchiroli district, in which 465 cases were of the ST community, out of which 88 cases were of the mother being a minor.