March 4, 2009 1:38:54 am
Over 60 children studying in a government primary school in Panchmahals district fell ill after consuming specially packed flavoured milk as part of the state governments Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojna,on Tuesday.
Later,teachers of the school at Batakwada village in Santrampur taluka found insects in the milk pouches of Doodh Sanjivani. Van Bandhu Kalyan Yojana is a recently-launched tribal welfare programme.
The incident took place between 11.30 am and 12.30 pm after students from Class I to IV were served packaged milk. They started vomiting within minutes of consuming it. When some teachers checked the pouches,they found insects inside.
The matter was immediately communicated to the senior government and health officials,and ambulances from Fatehpura,Sukhsar and Santrampur were rushed to the school.
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The students were shifted to a hospital in Santrampur after primary treatment at a local hospital.
According to the officials of the District Education Office,72 out of the 97 students of the school were present on Tuesday. The 11,who did not fall ill,had not consumed the milk.
Dr S L Acharya,the superintendent of Santrampur Government Hospital,said: The condition of the children is improving,but they will be kept under observation for the next 24 hours. The intake of stale and contaminated milk was the reason behind the food poisoning.
Panchmahals Chief District Health Officer Prakash Vaghela said a team of doctors has been sent to the village. We have asked the doctors to remain on the alert for any emergency at night. We are keeping a check on the students of other schools. If more such cases come up in the village,action will be taken against the milk provider, Vaghela said.
The Panchmahals District Cooperative Milk Producers Union had supplied the milk in 200 ml pouches under the brand name of Doodh Sanjivani,which is supplied to government-run schools as part of the governments project.
Bhupendra Solanki,Godhra MP and chairman of Panchmahals Dairy Co-operative Union,said: Our job is to send the milk there. We pack the milk when it is chilled. The complaint has come only from one school. The affected school must have kept the milk for some days,and so only those children fell ill.
Asked as to why the expiry date was not printed on the pouches,he said,The milk has to be consumed on the same day itself. So,there is no reason for mentioning the expiry date.
Contrary to this,Panchmahals District Education Officer R D Vankar told Newsline that the expiry date was printed on the pouches.
We are trying to ascertain as to whether the milk was stale. It is clear that there was something wrong with the milk itself since those 11 children who did not consume it are fine. We are waiting for the laboratory results,which will give a more clear picture. Accordingly,we will find out the loopholes in the system, Vankar added.
Samples of the contaminated milk have now been sent to the Food and Drug department for investigation. Santrampur Mamlatdar Abdul Suthar said,The teachers should check the food before giving it to the students. But no technical process is maintained at the school to keep a tab on the food quality.
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