The Governor of Maharashtra has initiated a crucial measure to empower tribal women and kids with the right to "nutritious food" as the government is chalking out its strategies to get to the root cause of the severe malnutrition leading to high child mortality.
Governer C Vidyasagar Rao, granted under Schedule 5 of the Constitution, has amended the National Food Security Act, 2013 for the Scheduled Areas of the state, replacing the word 'Take Home Ration' with 'Hot Cooked Meal, including eggs'.
‘The move aims to provide curb malnutrition, stunting, ill-health and child mortality, most common in tribal areas due to poverty and lack of livelihood resources.’
The Amendment notified on November 5, 2016, makes a provision that along with the "hot cooked meal", eggs shall be provided to children (aged 7 months to 6 years) in anganwadis in the Scheduled Areas of Maharashtra, at least 4 times a week. It further mandates that suitable alternatives may be provided to children who may not prefer eggs.
The notification further states that the state government shall make adequate financial provisions to meet the additional expenditure to be incurred in scheduled areas while providing hot cooked meal to lactating and pregnant women.
The government has already been running the APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Ahar Yojana of "one hot cooked meal a day" for pregnant and lactating women since last year, which was extended to children in the age group of 7 months to 6 years recently.
"The Governor had further felt that the above schemes may be converted into rights-based entitlements to the above said beneficiary groups so that there shall be continuity and effectiveness in the implementation of these schemes which aim at improving the nutritional status of the beneficiaries," reads a press communiqué of the Raj Bhavan.
The FSA permits states to amend the Act to formulate other welfare schemes for higher benefits. The move aims to provide curb malnutrition, stunting, ill-health and child mortality, most common in tribal areas due to poverty and lack of livelihood resources.
In Palghar district alone, which is barely 50 km from Mumbai, 124 kids have died of malnutrition between April and August. Over 600 kids were feared dead across Maharashtra in the same period due to malnutrition.