The Maharashtra government has allocated Rs10 crore per year for alleviation of malnutrition in children, however the state has not spent a single paisa from this over the past two years, reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. In fact, during FY2015-16, there was not even a budgetary allocation for alleviation of malnutrition.
Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner had filed the RTI application seeking details of budgetary allocation and expenditure for malnourished children in Maharashtra. He had asked how many malnourished children are there in the state as per last count and one before that.
As per the reply, Mr Gandhi received, almost 10% or 6,29,057 children out of the total 61.11 lakh are under nourished or malnourished. The govt allocated Rs159 per children in 2017 to alleviate malnutrition, compared with Rs162 a year before.
Mr Gandhi also asked about the amount budgeted for the current and past financial year for alleviation of malnutrition including the amount for energy dense nutritious food (EDNF), and the amount spent in the past and current financial year. The response he received was shocking.
During FY2015-16, there was no budget for alleviation of malnutrition. During 2016-17, the state government allocated Rs10.50 crore, but spent nothing. During the current FY2017-18, there is a provision of Rs10 crore, but during the past eight months, there is no expenditure and the fund is lying unutilised.
“Perhaps they (the Govt) realise that at a paltry Rs160 per year per child, nothing meaningful can be done (to alleviate malnutrition). Hence the expenditure on alleviation of malnutrition in children is ZERO!” Mr Gandhi said.
In October 2017, the Bombay High Court had pulled up the state government for the continued deaths of children owing to malnutrition questioning if the schemes implemented by the state to improve the situation was achieving its purpose and reaching the tribal areas.