Union women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath has held the state government responsible for the deaths of 43 children in Jhabua late last year.

Ms. Tirath was on a one day visit to the tribal dominated district to review the aftermath of the alleged malnutrition deaths of 43 children in two villages of the district.

Expressing concern over the below par functioning of Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) in the region, Ms.Tirath said that the state government has not been able to fulfil its responsibility of protecting children from malnutrition.

“It is a matter of deep concern as the situation here is very grim,” Ms.Tirath told The Hindu over phone. “A lot of children here are severely undernourished, and it appears that the state government has failed to protect the children of the state from malnutrition,” she said.

The Union Minister made surprise tours of remote areas of the region like Kallipura, Bhagaur, Madrani among others and found a lot of inconsistencies in the functioning of the AWCs, especially over the food served and hygiene conditions around the centres.

Ms. Tirath advocated the increased involvement of women, children and the community in tackling the problem of malnutrition.

She also said that there was a lot of inconsistency in schemes on paper and their implementation. The state government, she said, had not been able to utilize the funds provided by the central government which had led to over 40% of the funds being lapsed over the last few years.