Jolted by the deaths of the 23 school students in Gandamal, Bihar, earlier this week after consuming the mid-day meal, the state government on Friday ordered that the school be merged with the nearest middle school where infrastructure for such meals is better.
The mid-day meal served at the Dharma Sati Primary School, 120 km northwest of Patna, had been prepared under unhygienic conditions. The exact cause of death will be known once the viscera reports of the victims are in.
Principal secretary, education, Amarjeet Sinha, said, “The government had taken a policy decision not to run schools from rented and dilapidated structures from now on.”
“If the merger of the Dharma Sati School does not go as planned and it is required to run two shifts, the government will allow for that,” he added.
Sinha also informed that the Chapra police was still looking for the school principal Meena Devi and her husband, the vendor who supplied mid-day meal rations to the primary school and have been named in the FIR.
Meena Devi, as per the FIR filed, is the prime suspect in the entire episode. She allegedly forced the cook to use the oil, despite the latter’s reluctance to do so and observation that the oil had a pungent smell and turned black on being heated.
Chapra SP Sujit Kumar said the viscera report was needed before a chargesheet could be filed. Sinha appealed to the school management committee, comprising mothers of students and elected representatives of panchayats, to taste the food being served to monitor quality.
Panic in Patna ICU
Panic gripped the paediatric intensive care unit of the Patna Medical College Hospital on Friday when a window air-conditioner started emitting smoke. Three Saran mid-day meal poisoning victims were among the six children undergoing treatment in the unit. They rushed out, but were back minutes later once the problem was identified and brought under control.