Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Mumbai: In an embarrassment to Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, the Bombay High Court, on Tuesday, said, despite having a CM from Vidarbha for five years, the Maharashtra government has failed to improve the living conditions of the tribals in this region.

The court also sought to know if the government would ever be serious about improving the conditions of tribals living in rural Maharashtra, particularly in Melghat. The bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Riyaz Chagla also referred to the on-going tussle over government formation.

“Despite the election being concluded 10 days back, we are in a state where there is a caretaker arrangement. We have no government as yet and that is the reason the bureaucrats are unable to give satisfactory answers to our queries. This is unfortunate,” Justice Dharmadhikari remarked.

The judges were dealing with a batch of petitions highlighting the plight of tribal people living in remote areas, particularly in Melghat in Vidarbha region. It is claimed that thousands of pregnant, lactating mothers and infants have died here, due to malnutrition.

On Tuesday, the bench sought to know why there has been no improvement in the conditions of the people in such remote areas, despite the government making heavy budgetary allocations.

“Only the names of the schemes have changed but the scheme remains the same. Time and again funds are being allocated for enhancing the conditions of people living in these areas but still the conditions remain the same,” the court noted.

The court summoned officials of three departments to be present during the next hearing. “Let the ground-level workers from the tribal development, public health and also the women and child welfare departments remain present in this court, on December 5.

We want them to give us a clear picture as to why the funds are not reaching the tribals,” the bench added. This comes after the officials could not give any satisfactory answer to the bench.

During the course of the hearing, the judges also sought to know if the government would ever take this issue seriously.

“Will you (government) ever be serious enough to enhance the situation in Melghat?” questioned Justice Dharmadhikari. Advocate Neha Bhide, appearing for the government, promptly informed the court, the infant mortality rates have reduced in the region.

“Even a single death is unfortunate. Your (government) aim should be zero deaths since this is a progressive state,” Justice Dharmadhikari pointed out.

Meanwhile, the bench sought to know from the government as to what action it proposes or has taken against those doctors, who have refused to work in such remote areas.

The bench has also said, the government must ensure that pregnant women get sufficient nutrition, so that the child can remain stable and healthy.The bench has accordingly posted the matter for further hearing on December 5.

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