According to Bombay High Court, deaths due to malnutrition in tribal areas of Maharashtra is an issue as important as farmers' distress which attracted loan waiver by the government to mitigate it.
The tribal population needs an immediate attention from the government, said a division bench of justices V M Kanade and A M Badar.
The judges directed the government to implement within two months all previous orders passed by the court to extend help to the tribal population.
The court gave its direction while hearing a bunch of petitions on the issue of malnutrition deaths of children in tribal areas.
As per a report by a committee headed by Dr Abhay Bang, as many as 10,000 children die of malnutrition and related illnesses each year in tribal areas of Maharashtra.
The government has done very little to implement the past orders of the court, the report said.
To this the judges said, "The government has been merely paying lip service... Time has come for the state to be held responsible for non-implementation of the court orders.
"This issue is equally, if not more, important than (that of) farmers whose loans were waived by the government," Justice Kanade said.
District collectors and the state's chief secretary will be held responsible for the death of children due to malnutrition in future, the high court warned.