Thane (Maha): Tribals from several villages in Palghar have planned a protest on Monday against state government's alleged apathy towards the malnourished children in the district.
According to an official statement, the number of malnourished children, falling under SAM (severe acute malnutrition) and MAM (moderate acute malnutrition), in Palghar district is over 5,500.
Shramjivi Sanghatana, a local NGO working for the uplift of tribals, has urged state Tribal Development Minister and Palghar's Guardian Minister Vishnu Sawra to immediately restore the Village Child Development Centre (VCDC), which was closed in August this year apparently for want of funds.
The Sanghatana's founder, Vivek Pandit, said the tribals would hold a protest in front of Sawra's house on Monday, besides staging agitations at all government offices at the district's Jawhar taluka headquarters. He said the condition of children in the villages and the anganwadis is precarious and the authorities have miserably failed to pay any attention to it.
In Jawhar, which is worst hit by malnourishment, there were more than 1,500 cases of children under SAM and MAM who need immediate relief from the VCDC, he said adding that the condition of children is getting worse day-by-day. He also alleged that the meals provided at anganwadis are far from satisfactory.
Meanwhile, Chief District Programme Officer S K Jadhav admitted that the children needed proper care, but said they were helpless as they have no funds for it. He said 43 children have died in Jawhar taluka alone (due to various reasons) this year.
Taluka medical officer Dr Kiran Patil also said that the children need VCDC for immediate attention and improvement, but lack of funds has derailed the programme.
Block Development Officer, Jawhar, S S Samant said they are ready to take up all the necessary steps provided they get assistance from the state government.
Considering the condition of the children, Pandit said, "What is the use of the smart cities, when the children in neighbouring villages are dying on account of the failures of the government. If the Centre has stopped a programme, the state government could as well take up another programme with a view to save the children which is not forthcoming."