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Amid reports of around 180 child deaths due to malnutrition and related ailments in tribal areas of Maharashtra since August, the Bombay High Court today directed authorities to implement urgent welfare measures, and inform the court of the same. A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice N M Jamdar also directed the state public health department's core committee to hold a meeting by November 15, the next date of hearing, to review the implementation of remedial measures. The committee, headed by Maharashtra's chief secretary, was constituted in 2013 to prevent and reduce malnutrition in children and related illnesses and deaths in the tribal districts across the state. The directions came on a set of public interest litigations (PILs) highlighting a constant rise in deaths due to malnutrition and related illnesses among those living in the Melghat region of Vidarbha, and other tribal areas in Maharashtra. The petitioners had last week claimed in the high court that since August this year, nearly 180 children had died of malnutrition and related illnesses in the state's tribal areas. The court has passed several orders over the last two years, directing the state government to ensure that those residing in tribal areas of the state get adequate nutrition, health care, sanitation and education facilities. However, the state has had little success in controlling malnutrition-related deaths, especially in children in the area. During the previous hearing, taking cognisance of the seriousness of the issue and the state's failure to implement adequate welfare measures, the court had decided to hold frequent hearings for all matters pertaining to tribal welfare.
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