Maharashtra Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde on Thursday said the number of deaths among children and infants has gone down in the state in the past one year. However, she refused to admit that malnutrition deaths were on the rise in the state’s tribal belts when the subject was brought up in the Assembly, reported Hindustan Times.

Legislators pointed out that around 8,000 children had died of malnutrition between April and August in 2016. To this, Munde said the government has set up a task force comprising officials from three departments – women and child development, public health and tribal development – to look into the issue. “A consolidated plan to tackle malnutrition is being made which the task force will implement,” she said, adding that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had cleared a number of schemes that will help fight malnutrition among children.

She also announced a “Jachcha Bachcha Yojna” scheme to take care of infants in tribal areas. Munde said all child deaths were not related to malnutrition. There are other factors that contribute to the infant mortality rate such as infection, she said.

The minister said that while 21,985 children deaths were reported in the state in 2015-2016, 9,563 children died between April and August 2016. She also pointed out that the infant mortality rate in India was 39 per thousand in 2014, where as it was 22 in Maharashtra.