What killed Chhapra school kids? Investigators look for clues
A controversy is raging in Bihar about what led to the deaths of 22 school children in Chhapra region of Bihar. Investigators say the food was contaminated but are yet to confirm that it had insecticides. Arun Kumar, Ruchir Kumar report.patna Updated: Jul 18, 2013 00:13 IST
With 22 students dead after consuming mid-day meal at the Dharma Sati primary school of contaminated by insecticides.
District commissioner, Saran, Shashi Shekhar Sharma said, "Though it has been proved that the children fell ill within hours of having the meal, indicating that it had somehow been contaminated. However, we will know more only after a detailed investigation."
Dr Amar Kant Jha, superintendent of Patna Medical College Hospital -- where some of the students were admitted -- also said the actual reason will be known only after the forensic and laboratory tests were made available.
However, the principal secretary, education, Amarjeet Sinha, himself a doctor, suggested that organo-phosphate, which is used in insecticides, may have been responsible.
Doctors said the administration of atropine to affected children had been efficacious, which also points to insecticide contamination of the vegetable oil.
School teachers said only those children who consumed the potato-soyabean subzi were taken ill. Ten children who did not have the meal were not affected.
Various versions of how the food was stored are floating. While one section of teachers has told the Chhapra administration that it was kept in containers that may have been contaminated, others said that it was stored in an area where insecticide was kept. The forensic team has collected samples of the served food and is expected to issue a report soon.
The social welfare minister, Parveen Amanullah, said, "Even if the food was substandard, would it kill the children unless something poisonous was introduced in it?" The state education minister, PK Sahi, whose department handles the mid-day meal programme, said the state government was also investigating the possibility of a deliberate contamination leading to the deaths.