There is a flurry of activity by health care officials at Shivaji Nagar slum in Govandi.
The Hindustan Times reported on December 13 that at least 16 children had died in the slum since April of malnutrition-related illnesses.
After the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to the Union health secretary and the Maharashtra chief secretary on Monday seeking reports on the situation, the state’s women and child welfare minister Varsha Gaikwad has promised action.
Gaikwad said she would personally handle the NHRC notice. “I have no idea about the notice as of now. I will check whether we have received it. I will try and answer all queries and follow the NHRC recommendations, if any.”
Gaikwad said her department was already on the job. “Several departments are involved in the malnutrition issue. I have been meeting all officials concerned and I'm confident that we will do better on this in the future.”
Residents reported that after the report in HT, health workers of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had started weighing children and giving them nutrient supplements.
Under the Central government-run Integrated Child Development Scheme, rations had also been distributed to children, local officials claimed.
"Despite the Supreme Court orders, malnutrition still persists in an industrialised city like Mumbai and it’s about time the NHRC reacted to it," said Gayatri Singh, member of the Human Rights Lawyers' Network.
The scale of malnutrition in Mumbai suggests a failure in the delivery of government services and particularly of 35 years of the Integrated Child Development Scheme, the Central government’s primary means of addressing malnutrition countrywide among children up to six years and pregnant and lactating women, the NHRC said quoting the HT report.