68,000 children suffering from malnutrition in Karnataka

Bangalore: A Karnataka High Court-appointed committee today said the state government should take up as a top priority medical treatment of 68,000 children suffering from malnutrition.

The panel`s chairman and high court Judge Justice N K Patil noted that many of these kids were in "end-stage" and told the government to extend individual medical assistance rather than treating them uniformly.

The nine-member committee was constituted by the court after B L Patil of NGO Vimochana Sangha wrote - following a news channel report of children suffering from malnutrition - to the Chief Justice Vikramjit Singh to look into the issue. The CJ converted it into a PIL and asked it to look into various aspects in this context.

The government had told the court that 68,000 children were suffering from malnutrition.

Justice Patil favoured providing food to children in anganwadis as per the food habits of the region and not a standard menu for the entire state.

He indicated that this suggestion would form part of the committee recommendations in the interim action plan report to be submitted to the High Court on June 12.

He said the Committee is likely to recommend establishing a 60-bed hospital in district headquarters for malnourished children and their mothers, adding, panels under the chairmanship of Deputy Commissioners in each district have been formed to monitor the affairs of Anganwadis. Deputy Commissioners would be held accountable for lapses.

Justice Patil told reporters that his committee plans to submit a master action plan report on the issues within a "reasonable period" after studying the scenario in other states as well as in some European and Asian countries on how they tackled such matters.

Most of the children suffering from malnutrition are from Raichur, Yadgir, Gulbarga, Bidar, Belgaum, Kolar and Chikkaballapura districts.

In an appeal, Justice Patil said today as the Committee is required to prepare an effective Action Plan, to save the children suffering from malnutrition, it requests experts, NGOs and any interested persons working in the field of welfare of children, to submit their suggestions in writing within seven days.

A toll-free number (1800-425-25250) was announced on the occasion for the public.