iconimg Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Puja Pednekar, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, August 23, 2013
Principals of more than 35,000 schools in the state withdrew their boycott against food served in the midday meals, on Wednesday. The decision was taken after the state government agreed to set up a 15 member committee to recommend methods to improve the quality of meals served in schools.

The Maharashtra State Secondary and Higher Secondary School Principals’ Association, which was protesting across the state since August 16, will now be part of a government committee on children’s safety in midday meals.

The committee will be headed by the director of primary education, Mahavir Mane, directors of secondary education and school principals, and is required to prepare a proposal chalking out steps that can be taken to ensure that midday meals consumed by children are safe and of good quality.

The principals seek to make two major recommendations in the proposal.

The first recommendation is the introduction of devices that detect if the meal has been poisoned.

“It is not possible to keep an eye on how the food is prepared, especially if it is being outsourced to contractors,” said Prashant Redij, vice president of the association, Mumbai wing.

Redij said institutes like the Indian Institute of Technology and National Science Association could help in creating these devices.

The second recommendation proposed by the principals is that an ambulance be available for every school, within a five kilometer radius, in order to provide students with quick medical attention in case of an accident.

“This is especially required in rural areas,” Redij said.

The principals had started the boycott following the recent student deaths in Bihar and parts of Maharashtra, caused by contaminated midday meals.