A lizard in the mid-day meal led to 78 students of an upper primary school in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district being hospitalized on Tuesday. The students complained of stomach ache, cramps and vomiting after consuming the meal.
The incident happened less than two weeks after 23 students died after being served lunch laced with a deadly pesticide in a school in Bihar.
Officials said that the incident occurred at Mali Mohalla government school at Banera, 32 kilometers from Bhilwara, after the students were served lunch at around 9.30 am on Tuesday. The food served to the students was under the mid-day meal scheme, the officials added.
District collector Onkar Singh – who rushed to the Banera hospital -- suspended school principal Kailash Garg and mid-day meal in-charge Dinesh Tanwar besides removing additional block education officer LL Kohali from his post and putting him under ‘awaiting posting order’ status.
Three cooks, who prepared the food, were also fired.
The poisoning of the meal came to the notice of the school authorities when one of the students, Devi Lal Mali of class 8, discovered a dead lizard in his food when being served rice and dal. The principal and mid day meal in-charge immediately asked all students to stop eating and threw away the entire food. They then informed the district administration about the incident.
But by that time, many students had already begun eating and soon took ill with complaints of cramps and vomiting. All students, aged between 8 and 15, were rushed to the governmental hospital in Banera.
Chief medical and health officer (CMHO) RC Samariya said that over 50 students have been discharged from the hospital and most of them are now out of danger.
One class 8 student, Maina Bairwa, was shifted to the Bhilwara Mahatma Gandhi Hospital after her condition worsened. She is, however, said to be out of danger too.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, district collector Onkar Singh said, “We have dispatched medical teams to each house to conduct a survey whether any student could not reach the hospital.”
He added that out of 247 students, 185 students were present and 78 had had mid-day meal on Tuesday. The sub-divisional magistrate of Banera has also been asked to probe the incident.
On Monday, a dead mouse was found in the drinking water container and insects in rice and wheat at the Ulela village government secondary school in Bhilwara district, following which the students had boycotted the mid-day meal.
Earlier on July 19 and 20, district officials had checked mid-day meal preparations in around 200 schools in the district.
Also, several other incidents have been reported of students of government schools falling ill after consuming contaminated mid-day meals in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and some other states.