Stung by the mid-day meal tragedy in Bihar,the Centre on Wednesday asked all states to put in place a contingency plan to deal with such incidents and ensure strict compliance of guidelines like teachers tasting food before it is served and procurement of foodgrains in sealed containers.
School Education Secretary R Bhattacharya,who held deliberations with all state secretaries through video-conferencing in wake of the incident,emphasised on an effective contingency plan to tackle such untoward incidents.
As many as 23 children died after consuming mid-day meal in Bihar’s Saran district on July 16.
The secretary directed the states to adhere strictly to guidelines such as teachers and a member of the school management committee tasting the food before it was served to the children,senior HRD Ministry officials said.
The meeting is understood to have discussed the good practices followed in states like Maharashtra,where the foodgrains and oil are procured in sealed containers. The states were told to ensure that the materials for food preparation were of standard quality.
According to the ministry officials,Chhattisgarh also came in for praise because of active community participation in implementation of the scheme.
Some structural issues about the execution of the scheme and the lacunae also came up for deliberation,sources said.
Meanwhile,the new monitoring committee announced by the ministry would not only review effective monitoring of the scheme but also ensure quality,safety and hygiene aspects.
The probe report of Commissioner (Saran) and Deputy Inspector General of Police (Saran range) Binod Kumar,submitted to the state government,has also blamed the school principal for the tragedy.
Confirming the presence of poisonous pesticides in the meal,Forensic Science Laboratory said the contaminated food contained monocrotophos,an organophosphate insecticide,after experts examined samples of oil from the container,food remains on the platter and remains in the utensils.