Mumbai: As the nation remembers Mahatma Gandhi on his birth anniversary, there is a shame for the India he fought for. CNN-IBN travelled to Maharashtra's malnutrition capital Melghat, where thousands of kids continue to suffer from malnutrition. In June 2012, Surjabai Tota, 18 years of age and weiging just 28 kg and her new born daughter weighing a little under a a kilo, died.
The deaths uncovered a little known data. There are 2,000 plus malnourished children in Sangrampur taluka in Maharashtra's Buldhana. Activists are calling it the new Melghat.
Severely malnourished, 18-month-old Parveena Suratne's wails echo in Aalevadi village. Her father abandoned the family at her birth, leaving her mother struggling to feed three young children. The elder daughter, 10-year-old Sabyana, does odd jobs and is determined to nurse her malnourished little sister back to health.
Eighteen per cent of Sangrampur's children below six years of age suffer from acute malnutrition. Many argue that the figures are underreported. The condition is quite like Melghat that has become synomymous with malnutrition.
A year after CNN-IBN reported the criminal absence of healthcare facilities and how there wasn't a single gynaecologist or a paediatrician, many promises were made, but none were kept. In March 2012, the Bombay High Court, yet again, came down heavily on the Maharashtra government for failing to provide specialist doctors.
The court said, "It is evident that there is denial of medical treatment in those areas. It is a matter of fundamental rights of citizen. The situation must receive attention from the state government and action must be taken on a war-footing."
In June, Melghat reported 81 infant deaths in the monsoon season alone. In Buldhana, the drought has made the situation worse with most anganwadis shut through the summer, and having to trudge several kilometres to get access to drinking water, those like Garlibai Solanki nursing her fifth girl child, who is also malnourished, is hoping some help comes her way.