The Maharashtra cabinet today decided to set up the Village Child Development Centres (VCDCs) scheme in non-tribal regions of the state following deaths of several children due to malnutrition in the state. According to an official from the Chief Minister’s Office, the VCDC scheme is for home-based management of children affected by severe acute malnutrition (SAM) to provide them nutritious and energy dense food, as defined by the World Health Organisation, UNICEF India and World Food Programme. “The government will spend Rs 20 crore on this scheme for the overall health improvement of 54,283 children affected by SAM,” the official said.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had in 2016 issued a notice to the state government over the deaths of several children in Palghar district, especially in Mokhada taluka, allegedly due to malnourishment. The NHRC had then taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that 600 children died allegedly due to malnutrition in Palghar last year. Currently, VCDCs have been reopened in certain tribal pockets of Amravati and Palghar. The cost involved is Rs 1,100 to Rs 1,400 per child per month and is funded by the tribal department. A malnourished child would be admitted at the village child development centre for a month to get six nutritious meals each day. Meanwhile, in another decision, the cabinet has decided to increase the remuneration from Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 of contractual law officers working in the offices of divisional commissioners and collectors.
The cabinet also decided to give a job in Pune Municipal Corporation to one member of a family whose land was used for Urali-Fursangi dumping depot. The villagers have been demanding that the civic administration should shift the depots from Urali and Fursangi to other places as continuous dumping of garbage has polluted the groundwater and atmosphere, leading to health hazards. It was also decided to amend the Maharashtra Self-Finance School (Establishment and Regulation) Act, as a part of the government’s proposed educational reforms. In another decision, the cabinet has given its nod to provide 12 hour 3-phase power supply to agriculture pumps in revenue circles where rainfall is less and a long dry spell prevails. The cabinet has also sanctioned the required manpower for Wildlife Research and Training Centre at Gorewada, Nagpur. The centre functions under the Maharashtra Animal Husbandry and Fisheries Science University.