In yet another incident of midday meal mess, 95 students of a government middle school in Rajganj, 30km from the district headquarters, had to be hospitalised today after they ate a lunch of rice and dal, allegedly cooked with a dead lizard in it.
The incident comes within a month of a similar case at a primary school in Govindpur, where 80 students were fed a snake for midday meal.
Though Sulochana Devi, a member of Matri Samiti, entrusted with the job of cooking meals in state-run schools, has denied that there was a dead lizard in the rice cooked for 120 students of Utkramit Madhya Vidyalaya, Chungi, Dhanbad sub-divisional officer George Kumar has promised a probe.
Around 1.30pm, the children were served dal and rice. A little later the word spread that there was a lizard in the meal. A group of children who had already finished their lunch, started vomiting. Others complained of nausea and pain in the stomach.
Anxious parents arranged for four trekkers and rushed 95 students to a nearby nursing home. The authorities pleaded space crunch and referred all to Patliputra Medical College and Hospital. Around 4pm, the children were taken to the Hirapur campus of the hospital, but were shifted to Seraidhela soon.
Sources in the paediatrics department confirmed that 30 students were administered saline following symptoms of dehydration. Some had to be administered injections.
Head of the department U.S. Prasad said most of the students were suffering from dehydration and there was no sign of poisoning. Civil surgeon Dr U.P. Singh said they would be released from hospital soon.
Though the doctors played down the incident, agitated parents staged a demonstration, demanding a probe. Senior district officials, including SDO Kumar and block education extension officer Sudhanshu Shekhar Mehta, reached the spot to take stock of the situation.
The SDO said the matter would not be taken lightly. "A probe will be ordered and the guilty, if any, taken to task."
District superintendent of education Ratan Kumar Mahavar, who is in Ranchi, said an FIR would be launched against headmaster of the school Narayan Chandra Mahto.
He pointed out that it was mandatory for headmasters to taste the meal before it was served to students.
© The Telegraph / July 10, 2009