The Bombay High Court on Tuesday said it was not getting satisfactory answers from officials on the issue of malnutrition in Maharashtra because the state has a "caretaker (government) arrangement" as "duly elected MLAs of the largest party and their alliance partner are yet to elect their government".
A division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and R I Chagla was hearing a bunch of Public Interest Litigations highlighting a hike in malnutrition deaths and illnesses among those living in Melghat region of Vidarbha and other tribal areas of the state.
The bench said the government, for the last five years, had a chief minister (Devendra Fadnavis) who is from Vidarbha region but still the condition of people living there has not improved.
The court observed, "The state has a caretaker arrangement and duly elected MLAs of the largest party and their alliance partner are yet to elect their government. (State) officials in the court could not satisfactorily answer the questions."
Additional government pleader Neha Bhide told court the number of deaths due to malnutrition had reduced in the past few years, to which the bench replied that the government should not think this was something to be proud of.
"Reducing the figure is not the target. Even one child's death is unfortunate. The target for the government should be zero deaths. Maharashtra is a progressive state," the court said.
The court said while schemes like the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) were aimed at preventing child deaths due to malnutrition, it needed to know that if proper measures had been taken by the Centre and the state, what results it had yielded.
The bench directed senior officials from the Central and state child welfare development department to remain present on the next date of hearing on December 5 to inform the court about the quantity of funds spent in the past few years to implement schemes for people living in tribal areas of the state.
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