THE BOMBAY High Court on Monday directed the Nandurbar District Collector to be present in the court on September 23 and raised concerns over the continued deaths of children in tribal areas due to malnutrition and lack of medical facilities.
The court also pulled up the state government about a large number of vacant posts for doctors in the region.
A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice M S Karnik was hearing a bunch of pleas, including those filed by activists Dr Rajendra Burma and Bandu Sampatrao Sane, on malnutrition among children in the Melghat region.
The HC was informed by the petitioners that of the 411 deaths in the Nandurbar district since January, this year, 86 children had died due to malnutrition. The state government also said that it was taking short- and long-term measures to deal with the issue through its various departments.
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“Despite that, there are so many deaths in Nandurbar. 86 children have died since January. Half-baked reports do not do any service at all,” the petitioners claimed.
The bench noted that despite the previous order, the district collector did not submit a report.
“In such a view of the matter, we require the collector of Nandurbar district to remain personally present before this court on September 23,” it said and asked the collector to file a comprehensive affidavit by September 21.
Sane also submitted that there was no coordination between the government departments resulting in specialist doctors not being appointed in the tribal areas.
“How long will it take to complete the recruitment process? Why don’t you advise the government to follow the model we follow for the appointment of judicial officers? Let there be a continuous process. Please advise your government to do that otherwise these posts will not be filled up,” the court told Advocate General Ashutosh Kumbhakoni, adding that the state government can also coordinate with the Maharashtra Public Service Commission (MPSC) for the appointment of medical staff.
The HC also asked the state government to file a ‘better affidavit’ on steps taken to prevent deaths and appointments of doctors and posted further hearing to September 23.