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Death of tribal children: Court strictures on Maharashtra

Thursday 8 July 2004

By Our Special Correspondent

MUMBAI, JULY 7. The Chief Minister, Sushilkumar Shinde, has directed the Chief Secretary to file a report to the Prime Minister’s Office on the child deaths in the 15 tribal districts of Maharashtra. The PMO yesterday asked the State Government for a detailed report.

The Bombay High Court, which has taken suo motu notice of the deaths reported in The Times of India, today passed strictures on the State Government for its neglect of Adivasis. The court directed the State to double the budget for them and to implement all the schemes meant for their benefit. The court also asked the Government to give an assurance tomorrow on this subject.

Mr. Shinde told the media that many of the healthcare schemes for Adivasis did not seem to have reached them and those responsible for that would face action.

Subhash Salunkhe, Director of Health Services, told The Hindu that all the 9,000 child deaths since April 2003 to May 2004 were not related to malnutrition. "We are not Gods, we cannot prevent all deaths." Many deaths were due to accidents and other reasons, and there were some related to malnutrition.

"I am planning to suggest that the Collector and zilla parishad chief executive officer be held responsible for such deaths," he said.

He said that more than Rs. 20 crores was spent last year in the 15 tribal districts and another Rs. 25 crores was spent on those with low human development indicators. The State had reduced the infant mortality rate to 44/1000 live births.

He said the Health Department alone could not be blamed. The problem had to be tackled by all the 11 State Departments involved which ought to act in a coordinated manner. The 9,000 deaths of children had taken place in a population of 66 lakhs in one year.

See online : The Hindu


in The Hindu, Friday, July 08, 2004.

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