The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) will analyse and submit data on the nutritional status of children in a slum in Govandi to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan by next week, said S Parasuraman, TISS director, on Tuesday.
The institute’s decision has come a day after the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the union health ministry and the Maharashtra government on the malnutrition related deaths in Rafi Nagar slum of Govandi.
The Hindustan Times had first reported the death of 16 children under the age of 6 on December 13 between April and December. Since then, two more children succumbed to malnutrition related illnesses.
The data on the nutritional status of children has been collected by Apnalaya, a non-profit group that has been measuring the height and weight of children under the age of six in Govandi’s Rafi Nagar slum for the past six years.
“We are compiling and analysing the data to see the nutritional status of children in the area,” said Parasuraman. “We are in the process of putting it together and hope to submit it to the chief minister by early next week.”
On Tuesday Apnalaya convened a meeting of activists, non-governmental organisations and local authorities to discuss the issue of malnutrition related deaths, and how to address the problem.
“These children have the right to live,” said Leena Joshi, director of Apnalaya, at the meeting. “What can we do to ensure that they live?”
Neither the municipal corporation’s health officer for the ward, nor any representative from the Urban Health Centre at Nair Hospital, who were invited, attended the meeting.
Vineeta Jadhav, the health officer for the ward, declined to comment on why she did not attend the meeting. “All groups must work together in tackling this issue. No one organisation or group can tackle the issue on their own,” said Joshi.
The Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) operated by the central government is the main scheme for providing nutrition to children below the age of six. These organisations will be formulating their demands and taking these to ICDS and civic body officials, as well as the rationing department.