Of the 64 lakh children in the state, 17 lakh — around 20% — are severely or moderately malnourished, the Bombay high court (HC) observed, while commenting on the state’s inability to post bonded doctors in sensitive tribal areas that need urgent medical care.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Purnima Upadhyay, seeking the implementation of schemes introduced to check malnutrition in Melghat and other tribal areas of Maharashtra.
It is a tragedy that the state is not inculcating a sense of nationalism among youngsters to volunteer for public service, the court said.
A division bench of justice DY Chandrachud and justice SC Gupte stated that the figures indicate that the mechanism under which doctors, who have signed bonds, are sent to the rural areas is ineffective.
Responding to assistant government pleader Neha Bhide’s argument that the candidates shortlisted for postings rarely remain present for counselling during allotment, the court said, “There is absolutely no reason why PG diploma holders should be posted by the government. There should be an element of public service for a year for young generation. As a state you need to enforce this.”
The court has directed the state government to fill all vacant posts in the district, rural and sub-district hospitals during the forthcoming allotments in August.
“We are not convinced that adequate work has been done by the state.
We are not just concerned about Melghat. All eleven sensitive tribal areas should have adequate doctors,” the court said.
The court has also called for the constitution of a core committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary comprising principal secretaries from various departments to ensure implementation of the schemes for tribals.
The state has been asked to file a compliance report by August 30.