Disposable, low-grade plastic glasses are continuously used to distribute hot milk in primary schools and anganwadis of Madhya Pradesh, despite being cautioned by experts.
Several students of Shyamnagar Primary School and Gambhiria Primary Girls School in Raisen claimed that they stopped drinking the milk after it caused stomach ache and vomiting sensations. Seema Jain, teacher at Gambhiria School said that 30% of the children refused the milk while the rest were given the milk in steel glasses.
The officials responsible for the milk distribution programme say they have instructed against use of disposable glasses and made provision for purchase or donation of steel glasses for milk distribution, but a look at the field situation suggests that the reality is different.
Senior paediatrician Dr Sheela Bhambal said disposable plastic glasses were not suitable for distribution of hot milk and clean steel containers are best option.
Fariduddin, a quality assurance consultant with Madhya Pradesh Technical Assistance Support Team said low grade plastics released harmful chemicals at very high temperatures.
Distribution of hot, flavoured sweet milk started in primary schools and anganwadi centres of the state on July 16, 2015 under a state government initiative, as an add-on to the meals already served to children. Under the initiative, 100ml milk (thrice a week) is given to about 29 lakh kids in 92,000 anganwadis and 45 lakh students from Class 1 to 5 in government primary schools.
In Raisen district, a visit to about 30 schools and 20-odd anganwadis showed that steel glasses were available in a few places. Therefore, teachers and anganwadi workers had to purchase disposables glasses on their own.
Teachers In Kachaldara of Meghnagar block, however, decided to procure steel glasses. Lila, a local anganwadi worker said that the anganwadi was sharing the steel containers from a school on the same campus as its headmaster got the glasses and a bucket to get reimbursement from the contingency fund.
Commissioner (integrated child development scheme) Pushpalata Singh said, “Most anganwadis have steel glasses and in some places people have donated them. We haven’t got any complaint about use of disposables yet, but I would check the matter during the next review.”