At least 33 children were taken ill after they were severed a meal at a government-run school in Bihar’s Vaishali district on Friday.
The students were admitted to a primary health centre and are said to be out of danger. A lizard was found in the meal.
The children complained of uneasiness after the meal at the Rasulpur Korigawan primary school near Hajipur in Vaishali, a district official said. This is not first such case of suspected poisoning of a mid-day meal.
The incident comes a year after mid-day meal claimed lives of 23 children in Chhapra, Bihar.
According to officials of the education department, nothing has changed. “We have received number of reports of dead lizards, rats and a even snake being found in the food served to children. Leave alone insects and other small things. This, despite the Bihar government’s initiatives after last year’s mishap” an official told Rediff.com.
He said that in last seven months there have been at least 12 incidents of poisoning reported from different parts of the state including the latest one from Vaishali.
Last Saturday, a dead lizard was found in the mid-day meal served to children in a school in Siwan district where 25 of them fell ill and admitted to hospital.
Earlier this month (on July 5), a dead snake was found in the meal served at the Meghpur middle school in Sitamrhi district, where 54 children fell ill. The children were discharged from the local hospital after treatment.
In May, a dead lizard was found in the food in Katar middle school in Dehri- On-Sone, Rohtas district after which over three dozen children fell sick.
The mid-day meal scheme is running in 72,000 schools across Bihar and 16 million students avail of the meals.
Though reported poisoning of meals continues in the state, no action has been taken against concerned officials. ”Neither a strong action was initiated against any one found responsible for lapse nor any accountability is fixed to prevent recurrence,” another official said.
The education department officials admitted that it was a big task to provide cooked food to millions of children in thousands of schools spread across the state. “It is a big challenge to monitor the meals on a day-to-day basis as there are just six centralised kitchens catering to nearly 4,000 schools in twelve districts,” officials said.
After the mid-day meal tragedy last July, the Bihar government decided to train personnel associated with the implementation of the mid-day meal programme. It was decided to train 2.31 lakh cooks, 70,000 headmasters and 1.40 lakh chairpersons and secretaries of the school management.
It was also fixed by the government that the headmaster and the school monitoring committee members will first taste the food before serving to children in school but nothing has materialised. “All this is still on paper,” officials said.
Image: A gril eats her mid-day meal in a school in Chhapra. Photograph: Reuters