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Midday meal tragedy jolts Bihar

Statesman News Service |

Press Trust of India
PATNA, 18 JULY: Jolted by the midday meal tragedy in Saran which claimed the lives of 23 children, Bihar government is set to issue stringent instructions for quality check and improving infrastructural facilities.
“The notice for strict quality check of food served under midday meal scheme in schools across Bihar will be issued either today or tomorrow,” director, midday meal programme, R Lakshamanan told PTI.
He said inquiries into the Saran tragedy has revealed that standing orders like quality check of food and its maintenance by teachers and cooks were not observed in the Dharmasati Gandavan primary school.
Mr Lakshamanan said notwithstanding the ‘mishap’ at Chhapra and another at Madhubani yesterday in which 50 children fell ill, the midday meal scheme is continuing in other schools but with extra precaution.
He, however, admitted that in many schools children are refusing to take food packets provided to them under the programme.
The midday meal scheme, a flagship programme of the central government, covers 70,000 schools of the state providing food to 1.25 crore children.
Mr Lakshamanan, who visited the primary school at Dharmasati Gandavan village in Mashrakh block where the midday meal tragedy struck on Tuesday, said some additional measures would be adopted in the wake of the unpleasant incident and the existing ones would be strictly observed.
Mr Lakshmaman said in addition to the present provision of quality check of food under midday meal scheme by the cook and a school teacher, the government was planning to include one parent on rotational basis to ensure hygiene of the food.
Besides, a register would be maintained by all schools and comments would have to be entered in it every day about quality of food under the programme, he said.
The Bihar midday meal director said the state government would also look into improving infrastructural facilities for better implementation of the programme.
Roofs would be constructed in schools where food is cooked in roofless rooms and cleanness of food storage room would be ensured.
In addition to this, the cook engaged in preparation of food under the scheme would be trained to maintain hygiene and quality of food given to students, he added.