This is the second such incident of brazen carelessness by the staff serving mid-day meals to students in government schools in Mirzapur. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
In a freak accident, a three-year-old girl died after she fell into a boiling mid-day meal container in Uttar Pradesh’s Mirzapur. The incident took place on Monday and it came to light after the toddler succumbed to her injuries at the local hospital on late Monday night. According to the girl’s father, “the cooks had earphones on. So, they didn't notice the girl in the utensil. They took the pot with them along with the child in it. They didn’t listen to her screams.” The mid-day meal was being prepared for students of a school in Mirzapur’s Rampur Atari village.
Reacting to the freak death, Mirzapur District Magistrate Sushil Kumar Patel ordered ‘immediate suspension of the school headmaster.’ Patel said that, “Basic Education Officer has been asked to lodge an FIR. Action will be taken against the people responsible.” Mirzapur Basic Education Officer said that, “The matter has come to my knowledge. I will get this investigated after getting a report from the concerned Block Education Officer. Action will be taken. I'm being told that the girl was not a student of the school.”
This is the second such incident of brazen carelessness by the staff serving mid-day meals to students in government schools in Mirzapur. Lats year in September, a video went viral that showed students at primary government school in Mirzapur being served plain chapatis and salt under midday meal scheme. The food was served under the flagship programme. Though the website of the Uttar Pradesh mid-day meal authority shows pulses rice, rotis and vegetables as part of the menu, the ground reality appears from the claims.
According to the official website of the Midday Meal Scheme, more than 25.25 lakhs cook-cum-helper are engaged by the State/UTs during 2016-17. The scheme is the world’s largest school meal programme and reaches an estimated 12 crore children across 12 lakh schools in India.
In 2002, the Supreme Court directed the government to provide cooked midday meals (as opposed to providing dry rations) in all government and government aided primary schools. Calorie norms for the meals have been regularly revised starting from 300 calories in 2004, when the scheme was relaunched as the Midday Meal Scheme. Currently, the scheme provides children in government aided schools and education centres a cooked meal for a minimum of 200 days.
According to official data, more than 900 children were reported ill and none of them died after consuming mid-day meals across the country in last three years, according to HRD Ministry officials. The ministry had received 35 complaints from 15 states and Union Territories regarding substandard food quality during the same period.