HC to Maharashtra: Welfare state doesn’t only mean tall buildings, flyovers, it includes health, food too
The comments were made Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Nitin Jamdar while hearing public interest litigation on the deaths of a large number of malnourished children in tribal areasmumbai Updated: Oct 05, 2017 10:20 IST
The Bombay high court on Wednesday rapped the Maharashtra government for the death of tribal children saying, “You are a welfare state and a welfare state does not merely mean big and tall buildings, roads, bridges and flyovers. It means and includes proper health and food for the people.”
The comments were made Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice Nitin Jamdar to additional government pleader Neha Bhide while hearing public interest litigation on the deaths of a large number of malnourished children in tribal areas, especially in the naxalite-dominated areas of Melghat and Dharni in Yawatmal district. A petitioner, Bandhuraj Sane, pointed out that 180 tribal children had died in Melghat since April 2017 this year, and more than 75,000 children die in Maharashtra every year due to malnourishment.
The bench slammed the state for claiming that it ranked third in tackling malnutrition.
“You cannot say that there are 10,000 deaths in the neighbouring state and here there are only 1,000 deaths in Maharashtra and therefore it is okay. You can boldly and proudly boast when there are no deaths at all,” said the bench.
Bhide, however, maintained that the situation had improved a lot. “It is not that there is no improvement at all,” she said adding, “The situation has not improved as was expected due to lack of awareness amongst the tribal population.” She said the death of tribal children was a socioeconomic problem and public participation was required to tackle the problem effectively.
The bench refused to accept this contention either. “We don’t think that any parent will refuse to make use of a facility if he or she realises that it is in the interest of the child. You first take the facility to their doorstep but, we don’t know if the nutrition and other products that you purchase for children reach them or not,” the bench said.
It has now directed Sane and advocate Uday Warunjikar, who represented another petitioner, to submit a list of priorities by Monday, when the matters will come up for further hearing.