The Orissa high court bench comprising of Chief Justice Dr S. Muralidhar and Justice Gourishankar Satapathy while hearing a PIL on the acute condition of severe malnutrition among children in Jaipur has ordered State government to take all necessary measures to eliminate severe and acute malnourishment by the end of 2023, in Mantu Das v. Union of India & Ors. (W.P.(C) No. 12966 of 2023)
Facts of the Case
Four out of the 11 children whose cases were mentioned in the petition, according to the Collector of Jajpur, were extremely and dangerously malnourished. Three of the youngsters had moderate acute malnutrition (MAM), and one kid who had cerebral palsy and secondary malnutrition had already away. There are over 36 lakh children in Odisha, of which 28,541 (as of April 20–23) are reportedly in the SAM category, according to the secretary of the Women and Child Development Department (WCD). This number was 49,205 as of July 2022. She further stated that around 86,000 youngsters in Odisha could fall under the MAM category.
The Court expressed dissatisfaction at Odisha having around 30,000 SAM and 86,000 MAM children in 2023. It stated that the gravity of the issue would become more clear if one were to comprehend the national percentages of 2.26% SAM and 4.75% MAM on a 1.8 billion people and translate them into actual figures.
The Court further emphasized that because it is assumed that children older than six will enroll in government schools where they will get a Mid-Day Meal (MDM), they are often excluded from the benefits of most programmes.
People from Scheduled Tribes (ST) do not want their children to receive medical care at public hospitals, the Collector of Jajpur informed the court. They frequently need to be convinced, and perhaps even forced, to have their kids treated at government medical institutions.
The Court observed that the current appeal only focused on the Danagadi and Sukinda Blocks in the Jajpur district of Odisha and the grave condition involving SAM and MAM youngsters there. It was believed that the situation may be considerably worse in other districts and blocks of Odisha.
The secretaries of each department were instructed to convene a review meeting within a month of today after acknowledging the importance of the involvement and coordination of the Departments of School & Mass Education, WCD, Health and Family Welfare, Tribal Welfare, and Food and Civil Supplies. Additionally instructed to attend the conference were the secretaries of the Odisha State Commission for Women, the Odisha Food Commission, and the Odisha Child Rights Commission.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY HARSHEEN KAUR LUTHRA, RGNUL, PUNJAB