Mid-day meal deaths in Bihar: insecticide poisoning suspected

Doctors treating children who took ill after consuming mid-day meal say they responded to anti-organophosphorous drug

By Alok Gupta
Published: Wednesday 17 July 2013

Twenty-one children aged between five and eight years died after consuming government's free lunch scheme, mid-day meal, at Dharmasati Primary School in Chapra on Tuesday.

The children were given mid-day meal at around 1.30 pm. They started vomiting and complained of dizziness barely 15 minutes after having the lunch. Around five children were declared brought dead at the hospital.

Around 120 school children consumed the mid-day meal comprising boiled rice, soybean and pulses. Around 85 children have been admitted in critical condition in the hospital. According to district magistrate Abhijeet Sinha the children are been given the best possible treatment.

“We are still clueless about the cause of the death. The samples of the mid-day meal would be tested,” he said.

Doctors treating children at the Sadar Hospital claimed that of the 85 children who have been admitted in the hospital, around six are in critical condition. Some of ailing children would be rushed to the district hospital or to Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) for treatment.

Doctors claimed the meal might have got poisoned because of pesticide or insecticide.  "The children responded well when given anti-organophosphorous dose. The tablet form of organophosphorous are used in the storage of grains in godowns to keep insects away," doctors said.

According to eyewitnesses, Sadar Hospital has turned into morgue with shocked parents running to find their kids. Irate over the mass death, locals tried to ransack the primary school and protested in front of the district administration office.

Poisoning of mid-day meal is nothing new in Bihar. In the past three years, two children have died and scores have fallen severely sick. In majority of the cases, dead lizards, snakes and infectious insects were found in the cooked mid-day meal, leading to deaths or illness.

Bihar frequently witnesses spate of protests by school children and their parents over poor quality of mid-day meal.


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