On Tuesday, December 3, the repulsive sight of a dead mouse in dal interrupted the mid-day meal at a government-aided inter-college in Muzaffarnagar (Uttar Pradesh). However, by the time the staff stopped serving lunch, many students had already been taken ill.
Served to students of class 6-8, the meal had been prepared by an NGO called Jan Kalyan Sanstha Committee based in Hapur, a town about 90 km from Muzaffarnagar. The nine children and a teacher who fell ill after consuming the contaminated food were admitted to a nearby hospital and released after an hour.
A student said the rodent was found at the bottom of a vat of yellow Urad dal.
“As we took the dal with a spoon we saw a dead mouse at the bottom of the container,” said Shivang, a class 6 student, adding the food had also been served to 15 other students.
Speaking to reporters after the incident, Ram Sagar Tripathi, a local education official, called the shocking incident an example of “carelessness”.
“The Jan Kalyan Sanstha Vikas Committee prepares the food for the mid-day meal scheme. Today in the dal, there was a mouse. We stopped serving after that. Nine children fell ill and were taken to hospital, but everybody else is fine. There was no problem… it was just carelessness,” he said, adding that strict action would be initiated against the concerned NGO.
In the recent past, the UP government has drawn a lot of flak with its mid-day meal scheme.
Last week a video from the state’s Sonbhadra district showed a cook at a mid-day meal kitchen mixing a one-litre packet of milk with a bucket of water to feed about 81 students at a local school.
In the video, reportedly taken by a member of the gram panchayat, the cook is seen boiling water in a large aluminum container before adding milk from a one-litre carton. She then stirs the vessel slowly as the mixing is complete.
In September this year, students of a government school in Mirzapur district, were filmed sitting on the floor and eating rotis with salt.
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 state-run primary schools. It includes pulses, rice, rotis and vegetables. Fruits and milk are included on certain days, according to the meal chart.
The meals are supposed to provide a minimum of 450 calories to each child every day; this must include at least 12 grams of protein and should be served to every child at least 200 days a year.
According to the state government, it has provided mid-day meals in more than 1.5 lakh primary and middle schools across the state, as of December 2018. More than one crore children are supposed to benefit from the scheme.
Source: NDTVPosted in States