Thirty girls studying at a Delhi government school in Narela fell sick, allegedly after consuming the mid-day meal during lunch hours on Wednesday, police said. Students told police that they spotted a lizard in their mid-day meal, following which they felt unwell.
“There was a lizard in the kadi pakoda we had for mid-day meal today. I also ate the same meal, and had to take medicine. I have informed the Directorate of Education through WhatsApp today, but an official report will be submitted tomorrow,” said vice-principal Carmela Kujur. “We did whatever we could. As soon as students complained, we took them to hospital. But to avoid these incidents in the future, I feel mid-day meals should be dry.”
The incident comes four days after two students of a government school in east Delhi’s Kalyanpuri fell sick, allegedly after consuming the mid-day meal at the school on Saturday. In both cases, children had complained of stomach ache after they spotted a lizard in their food.
On Wednesday, the children were taken to the emergency unit of Satyawadi Raja Harish Chandra hospital. A police team has seized the samples from the school, and will send them to a forensic laboratory for testing. “We have registered a case under IPC sections 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others) and 337 (causing hurt by act endangering life or personal safety of others),” said DCP (Rohini) Rajneesh Gupta.
Education Minister Manish Sisodia said a meeting of school heads and NGOs preparing food has been called. “We have received a complaint that a lizard was found in the mid-day meal at a school in Narela. It is not only careless, but also criminal. A meeting has been called on Thursday. If any NGO is found not meeting standards, their contract will be cancelled,” Sisodia said.
On Monday, he had inspected two kitchens where mid-day meals were being prepared.
Wednesday’s incident came to light after a Class VI girl told her class teacher that there was a lizard in her lunch. The teacher asked other students not to consume the food and took the lunch to the principal’s office. “A few minutes later, we started to hear announcements asking us to stop eating the meal provided,” a Class VI student said.
After announcements were made, the girls started to complain of stomach aches, headaches and uneasiness. They were taken to the local hospital escorted by their teachers, and parents were informed. Doctors at the emergency unit said all girls were stable. “We made sure all available pediatrics were sent to the emergency unit. They have been discharged after treatment,” he said.
Ranjana Prasad, member of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights said a notice has been issued to the directorate of education asking them to take action against the meal provider. “When I visited the hospital, 30 children were complaining of nausea and stomach ache,” she said.