Muzaffarnagar: At least 10 children were hospitalised on Tuesday after they were fed ‘dal’ which had a dead rat in it during the midday meal at a government school in India’s Uttar Pradesh state.
The meal, meant for students between Class 6 and 8, had been prepared by an NGO called Jan Kalyan Sanstha Committee, which is based in Hapur.
A teacher who consumed the food along with the children has also been hospitalised.
All the students and the teacher were later discharged from the hospital.
According to reports, the dead rat was found at the bottom of the vessel in which the ‘urad dal’ had been cooked.
“By that time, many of the students had already eaten the food and had started vomiting,” a student said.
Talking to reporters after the incident Ram Sagar Tripathi, a local education official, called the incident an example of “carelessness”.
He said, “The Jan Kalyan Sanstha Vikas Committee prepares the food for the midday meal scheme. Today, there was a dead rat in the dal. We stopped serving it as soon as it was detected. Nine children had already consumed the dal and were taken to hospital.”
The official said action would be initiated against the NGO concerned.
In recent weeks the UP government has made headlines, for all the wrong reasons, with its midday meal scheme.
Last week, a video from the Sonebhadra district showed a cook at a midday meal kitchen mixing one litre of milk with a bucket of water for 81 children at a school.
In September, students at a government school in Mirzapur district were seen in a video being served roti with salt during the midday meal.
The website of the Uttar Pradesh Midday Meal Authority, the overseeing body for these meals in the state, describes an elaborate menu that is supposed to be served to the children at the state-run primary schools. It includes pulses, rice, rotis and vegetables. Fruits and milk are included on certain days, according to the meal chart.
These meals are supposed to provide a minimum of 450 calories to each child every day and must include at least 12 grams of protein and should be served to every child at least 200 days a year.
According to the state government, it has provided midday meals in more than 150,000 primary and middle schools across the state and more than 10 million children are supposed to benefit from the scheme.