As many as 1,274 children died of malnutrition in three districts of Maharashtra in ten months, the legislative council was informed on Monday.
These deaths (of children below 6 years) were reported between April 2014 and January 2015 in the districts of Nandurbar (662), Palghar (418) and Thane (194), said minister of state for women and child welfare minister Vidya Thakur.
Despite various initiatives taken by the Government, malnutrition cases in Bhiwandi area of Thane district doubled in 2014, she said.
Conceding that the figure of children dying due to insufficient diet was "alarming", Thakur said, "The number of malnourished children doubled in Bhiwandi-2 project area between 2013 and 2014. We are taking a lot of measures to reduce the cases."
"The number of children with less than average weight was 286 in 2013 in Bhiwandi-2 project area and this jumped to 497 in 2014," she said and read out the schemes launched by the Government to curb malnourishment among kids.
Unsatisfied with Thakur's reply, council chairman Ramraje Nimbalkar asked health minister Deepak Sawant to speak on the issue.
Sawant said the issue can be tackled effectively if the responsibility to deal with malnutrition is given to one department only.
He explained the initiatives taken by him in Melghat, a tribal area in Amravati district known for high malnutrition cases, to monitor the health of pregnant women.
"We have started keeping an account of pregnant women in Melghat since January. With the data it has become easy to know if they are receiving adequate help and care. The monitoring has helped and in March the death rate among pregnancy was brought down to zero.
"We want to implement the same model in Wada, Mokhada, Palghar, Dahanu, Nandurbar and Akkalkuwa areas (all having a sizeable tribal population)," Sawant said.