The findings stated that the Maharashtra government spent Rs 4,500 crore on improving child health in the last five years.
In Mumbai and Thane, the percentages of moderately and severely underweight girls were found much higher than the state’s average, the report added.
Under the integrated child development services (ICDS) programme, the state government utilized Rs 4,236 crore of the Rs 4,730 crore provided to tackle malnourishment among girls in last five years. Of the total 12,097 deaths of girls reported in Thane, Nandurbar, Mumbai, Buldhana, Gadchiroli, Beed, Nanded and Solapur, around 8,011 were due to malnourishment. A total of 139 deaths were recorded in Mumbai, while Thane district saw 1,291 fatalities.
The Congress-NCP government ruled the state during the five years and Dharavi MLA Varsha Gaikwad was the women and child development minister.
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The ICDS programme is one of the flagship schemes being implemented by the women and child development department to improve the nutrition and health of children in the 0-6 age group. It also aims at reducing mortality, morbidity, malnutrition, and the school drop-out rate. The welfare scheme’s objectives were to be achieved by providing supplementary nutrition, immunization and health check-ups. In March 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) found that there were 97,155 anganwadi centres in the state that catered to more than 82 lakh children, including 39.10 lakh girls up to six years.
According to the revised norms of the World Health Organisation, underweight children are segregated in two categories, moderately and severely underweight. The CAG findings indicated that between 2010 and 2014, the number of moderate and severely underweight girls in Mumbai and Thane ranged between 20% and 24%, while the state’s average was 16.27%. The number of moderately underweight girls in Mumbai stood at 21.66% and that of severely underweight girls was 2.87%.
In the tribal districts of Nandurbar and Gadchiroli, the number of moderate and severely underweight girls was as 33.98% and 27.02% respectively. “In connection with the significant number of moderately and severely underweight girls and their deaths, the ICDS commissioner has said that a special drive has been undertaken to address the problem,” the CAG report mentioned.