Just days after the July 16 Masrakh (Chhapra) mid-day meal (MDM) tragedy, which claimed 23 lives, around 77 children fell ill after eating their meals schools in Arwal and Jamui districts of Bihar on Wednesday. The first incident was stated to be a case of indigestion, whereas 'foul play' was suspected in Jamui.
In one incident, 20 kids were taken ill after taking their midday meal at a primary school at Chamandi under Banshi police station in Arwal district of south-central Bihar, around 85 km south-west of the state capital. Another 57 children fell ill soon after taking MDM in an upgraded middle school in Jamui district of soith-eastern Bihar. All the children were, however, reported out of danger by evening.
The affected kids in Arwal were rushed to a nearby public health centre (PHC) at Kurtha for treatment.
"However, by 7 pm, all of them were discharged after making a full recovery", Arwal district education officer Reena Kumari told HT, late Wednesday evening.
According to reports reaching here earlier, five-six students started complaining of stomachache soon after taking their meal. Soon the number increased to 10 and then to 20. Some of them also reportedly fainted.
The panicky headmaster and teachers immediately informed the higher officials and took the affected kids to the PHC. Teams of doctors were called from Arwal and Jehanabad to examine the students.
Arwal district magistrate Sanjay Kumar and other officials, including sub-divisional magistrate and the district education officer, also reached the PHC to oversee the arrangements.
Headmaster Arvind Kumar said he had tasted the food and found it to be fine. "As per the menu, khichdi-chokha was cooked on Wednesday for 195 students," he added.
Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) Sateyndra Kumar said the condition of six students was 'slightly serious' and they were taken to Jehanabad district hospital for better treatment.
Bihar MDM director R Lakshmanan, however, said the situation was well under control. "It might be a normal case of indigestion. The students did not have any vomiting or loose motion.
"But five-six of them did complain of stomachache. Later, eight others also complained. They were immediately taken to the PHC", he added.
The Arwal district magistrate, "We will try to find out as to what caused pain. The samples of food have been collected and a special medical team is looking after them," he added.
The upgraded middle school in Jamui, 8 kms from Jhajha, witnessed a similar scene. Soon after eating the MDM, several students complained of vomiting and stomach ache. The food in the school is provided by an NGO, Dayawati National Education Trust, Delhi.
"First 17 children were taken to referral hospital, Jhajha, but later 40 more were admitted there," said BN Jha, DEO, Jamui.
Jha said prima facie, there seemed to be some foul play. "It seems somebody mixed rat excreta in the food, which caused food poisoning to defame the NGO. We will inquire the whole incident, but all the students are safe and will be discharged," he added.
Jamui district magistrate Shashikant Tewari also reached the school with other officials.