In yet another incident of mid-day-meal fiasco, at least 10 children were hospitalized on Tuesday after they were fed ‘dal’ which had a dead rat in it during the midday meal in a government school in Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar.
An NGO called Jan Kalyan Sanstha Committee which is based in Hapur had prepared the meal meant for students between Class 6 and 8.
A teacher who consumed the food along with the children has also been hospitalized. All the students and the teacher were later discharged from the hospital.
According to reports, the dead rat was found at the bottom of the vessel in which the ‘urad dal’ had been cooked.
“By that time, many of the students had already eaten the food and had started vomiting,” said a student.
Ram Sagar Tripathi, a local education official, while talking to reporters called the shocking incident, “carelessness”.
He said, “The Jan Kalyan Sanstha Vikas Committee prepares the food for the mid-day meal scheme. Today, there was a dead rat in the dal. We stopped serving it as soon as it was detected. Nine children had already consumed the dal and were taken to hospital.”
The official said action would be initiated against the NGO concerned.
The UP government had been in news with its mid-day meal scheme for quite some time now, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
Last week, a video from the Sonebhadra district showed a cook at a mid-day meal kitchen mixing one litre of milk with a bucket of water for 81 children in the school.
Another shocking incident came to light in September, where the students of a government primary school in Sioor, Mirzapur district were being served salt and roti (flatbread) under the midday meal scheme. A video which became viral on the social media on August 22 showed about 100 children of classes 1 to 8 sitting on the floor of the school corridor, eating rotis with just some salt in their plates.
Although, the website of the Uttar Pradesh Mid-Day Meal Authority, the overseeing body for these meals in the state, describes an elaborate menu that is supposed to be served to the children at the state-run primary schools. It includes pulses, rice, rotis and vegetables. Fruits and milk are included on certain days, according to the meal chart but the implementation leaves much to be asked for.
These meals are supposed to provide a minimum of 450 calories to each child every day and must include at least 12 grams of protein and should be served to every child at least 200 days a year.
The state government claims that it has provided mid-day meals in more than 1.5 lakh primary and middle schools across the state and more than one crore children are supposed to benefit from the scheme.