In yet another instance of unhygienic midday meal, Chandigarh mayor Poonam Sharma found a dead lizard in the meal during her visit to anganwadi centre number 7 in Mauli Jagran on Thursday.
The mayor was talking to some visitors at her office on Thursday when one of the visitors received a call that a dead lizard had been found in the meal at the said anganwadi centre.
Sharma immediately rushed to the spot and was taken aback by what she saw there. She said it was disheartening to see as many as 30 children sitting in a room as small as 6x7 square foot. “There was no ventilation and the place was stinking. The cupboards were filthy,” she said, adding that pregnant women were also seen living there in pathetic conditions.
“The children were all below the age of three years and weren’t even taught basic toilet manners. More importantly, the wash basin was in a miserable condition,” she added.
Food safety officer Bharot Kanojia had taken the food samples for testing and had visited the kitchen in Jadua where the meals are prepared.
The mayor also visited the homes of some of the students. “I went to their houses which were right next to the centre to see if the children were okay and thankfully, they seemed fine but sadly even the parents tend to be ignorant about such things. It is also their responsibility to report such instances,” said Sharma, adding that she has given her mobile number to these families to contact her in case kids fall sick.
The mayor also checked the medicines provided at the angadwadi centre to ensure that they had not expired.
Meanwhile, when the secretary, social welfare department, Bhawna Garg, was contacted, she said she was unaware of the issue as she was out of town earlier in the day. However, Garg said, “Having said that, I will take it up with the director of the social welfare department and ensure that all corrective measures are taken. A lizard in the midday meal is a very serious matter, so we’ll have it checked at the earliest.”
On the other hand, the staff of the said Anganwadi centre said there were 24 more such centres in the Mauli Complex and they too were in no better condition than theirs. Neena, the incharge of the centre, told the mayor that the lizard apparently fell from the roof and as soon as she noticed it, she removed it and hence there was threat to children’s health .
The mayor further stated that there were 500 such centres in the entire city, where the conditions had deteriorated over time. Sharma also apprised the UT adviser about the incident and requested him to call a meeting with the officials concerned to come up with a policy for improving the situation in anganwadi centres.
Talking to HT, UT adviser Vijay Dev said, “I have ordered an inquiry to be conducted by the secretary of social welfare department to look into the complaint and fix the responsibility.”