With reports of infant deaths and cases of malnutrition in a slum pocket here, the Maharashtra government would launch a drive to estimate the rate of malnutrition in the city, Minister for Women and Child Development Varsha Gaikwad told journalists on Monday.

“We will be holding a meeting soon. Most of the Central government's funds are for the backward and tribal districts where malnutrition is higher. But we are thinking of seeking funds for Mumbai too. The city has a slum cover of up to 60 per cent and lack of hygiene is a matter of concern. We have asked for data on Mumbai from [non-government] organisations, but we will start a drive to ascertain the level of malnutrition here. We will also start awareness drives on hygiene and childcare,” Ms. Gaikwad said.

The State government would think of a separate scheme for Mumbai, in addition to the Integrated Child Development Services, which has been implemented all over the State.

As per revised standards of the World Health Organisation (WHO), 4.25 per cent of the children in Maharashtra suffered from malnutrition. Before June 2010, when the new WHO criteria were introduced, the figure stood at 0.11 per cent, Ms. Gaikwad said.