Yes!, No! Minister can?t decide
BASIC EDUCATION Minister Kiranpal Singh on Thursday treated reports of midday meal deaths like some Chinese puzzle?there but not there! He first almost agreed but then disagreed. ?Though the Kanpur, Meerut and Unnao ones looked to be that, they were not midday meal deaths. There has been no midday meal deaths,? he said while reacting to a report published in HT.india Updated: Jan 06, 2006 01:00 IST
BASIC EDUCATION Minister Kiranpal Singh on Thursday treated reports of midday meal deaths like some Chinese puzzle—there but not there!
He first almost agreed but then disagreed. “Though the Kanpur, Meerut and Unnao ones looked to be that, they were not midday meal deaths. There has been no midday meal deaths,” he said while reacting to a report published in HT.
In fact his press conference on Thursday saw him put forth some weird account (politics for instance) to prove things wrong.
When asked why children were falling ill, the minister said it might be due to village politics. “The scheme is run in the schools under the supervision of the village committees and the gram pradhans are the chairman of the committees.
It may be the handiwork of some rivals of the pradhans. They might have put some poisonous element in the food,” he added.
Singh said cases of food poisoning had been reported in some of the districts.
“Probe was ordered after two children died at Meerut. Both the divisional commissioner and the city magistrate investigated the deaths. But the fathers of the children told the members of the inquiry team that their children had consumed poison,” he said.
When queried about the post-mortem report, Singh said, “the viscera of the dead children have been dispatched to Agra for laboratory test and we are awaiting the report.” About the deaths in Kanpur, he said though the children had consumed cooked meal in the school, they died due to dengue. In Unnao too the children were served midday meal but they died due to some mysterious disease. “An FIR has been lodged against the headmaster and the matter is being probed,” the minister said.
He also accepted that substandard grain was being supplied to the schools from the godowns of the Food Corporation of India. “I have written to the FCI officials to keep a watch on the grain supplied for the midday meal programme,” he said.
Singh said recently a Task Force was dispatched to the districts to get first hand information on the quality of food served in the schools. The members of the Task Force had submitted their reports. “On the basis of the feedback provided by the members of the team, I have directed the authorities concerned to maintain the quality of the meal being served to the children.”
“It is a sensitive programme and I have told the officers if any case of irregularity was reported in the media, I would take strict action against the erring officers. The officers would have to give clarification on the reports of food poisoning and deaths,” he said.
“On January 4, I had written to the district magistrates of all the districts to supervise the midday meal programme. There is no slackness on the part of the government,” he added.