In the midst of a controversy over the increasing number of malnutrition-related deaths of children in the tribal-dominated areas, a four-year-old girl died in Mokhada, Palghar district, on Sunday. The minor’s death takes the number of malnutrition-related deaths to five over the past three.
Pramod Godambe, the block development officer (BDO) of Mokhada, said, “Sheetal Nikhade lived with her parents and brother in Baldhacha Pada village in Mokhada taluka, Palghar. Their family had arrived here from Nashik after Sheetal’s father, Chintaman, got a job in an industrial unit.”
“Sheetal was suffering from malnutrition and was undergoing treatment at Civil Hospital in Nashik. At Mokhada, Sheetal was admitted to Cottage Hospital, Jawhar, where doctors would regularly vaccinate her to improve her health condition,” added Godambe.
According to sources, Sheetal’s one-year-old brother also suffers from malnutrition.
Sheetal’s death has irked local tribals, who said that several political leaders, such as Pankaja Munde, Dhananjay Munde and Girish Mahajan, among others, have visited the district to take stock of the situation, but nothing has changed.
Maharashtra governor C Vidyasagar Rao hauled up the government for not doing much to tackle malnutrition in the district. Using his special powers with regard to tribal areas in the state, he made ‘hot cooked meals’ mandatory under the nutrition scheme run by the state for tribals.
VICTIMS OF MALNUTRITION IN PALGHAR
Sheetal Nikhade’s death has taken the number of malnutrition-related deaths to 5 over the past three months in Palghar district. There other four were:
Sagar Wagh who died on August 30
Roshni who died on September 9
Ishwar Savra who died on September 11
Rahul Wadkar who died on September 19
According to figures from women and child development department, in the past four years, there has been no significant change in the number of malnutrition deaths despite a change in regime. The progress on this front is too slow
There are fears that the number of malnutrition deaths may rise this year following scrapping of village child development centres (VCDC) scheme
State tribal affairs minister Vishnu Savara himself admitted that till August month 208 children died alone in Palghar district.