Among those who attended the meeting were state NCP President Madhukar Pichad, Tribal Development Minister Rajendra Gavit, Health Minister Suresh Shetty, and Women and Child Development Minister Varsha Gaikwad.
In the meeting that stretched on for more than two hours, Sankaranarayanan reiterated the need for a single line of administration, proper coordination among various departments, as well as the monitoring and effective implementation of existing schemes to reduce the incidence of malnutrition in the tribal areas of the state.
The governor is reported to have said, “We need a single senior officer in charge of scheduled areas to whom all departments will be answerable, in order to have effective monitoring of the situation.”
Calling for the strengthening of the public distribution system in scheduled areas, the governor said that efforts were also needed to create awareness among tribals about health issues, and persuade them against early marriage.
Sankaranarayanan told the ministers that the President is keenly monitoring the implementation of various programmes in the scheduled areas, and thus urgent steps must be taken to reduce the incidence of malnutrition in Maharashtra.
Pichad even pointed out to the Governor that nearly 50 per cent of the posts for doctors and specialists were lying vacant in tribal areas.
Shetty said that there should be a single nodal officer in each of the blocks that are grappling with the problem of malnutrition.
Minister Varsha Gaikwad told the Governor that about 25 departments are associated with malnutrition, directly or indirectly. Blaming the practice of early marriage and superstition prevailing in some of the communities for the problem of malnutrition, she expressed the need for social awareness among the people. She also called for efforts to reduce the incidence of school dropouts among tribal girls.
Sankaranarayanan said he intends convene a larger meeting involving the Chief Minister and other concerned ministers soon to follow up the issue.