Bihar's mid-day meal disaster: Forensic report confirms presence of pesticide in food

Bihar's mid-day meal disaster: Forensic report confirms presence of pesticide in food
Patna: A forensic report on the free lunch served to children in the school in Chhapra on Tuesday, has confirmed traces of insecticides in the food sample. The Forensic Science Lab report found the pesticide in the samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and mixture of rice with vegetables on aluminium utensils, all of which were collected from the school.

"It was observed that the peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than five times in comparison to the commercial preparation used as a control. It is a matter of investigation that how it came into the food," said Ravinder Kumar, Additional Director General (ADG) of Police, Patna.

The report found Monocrotophos in the samples of oil and the food sample that was collected. Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purposes. It is very toxic to human beings and animals.

More than 20 children died after consuming the mid-day meal. A report by the Bihar government said that there was widespread mismanagement among all those people involved in implementing the mid-day meal scheme.

The tragedy has left the village of Gandaman broken and furious, and triggered a national debate over the world's largest school feeding programme.

The principal of the school where the children died remains missing. She is guilty of criminal negligence, says the report prepared by local administrative and police officials in Chhapra.

The Union government is planning to set up a special committee that will to review the implementation of the mid-day meal programme and monitor the quality of food and the standards of hygiene.

India's free mid-day meal scheme, the largest free food programme in the world catering to around 120 million schoolchildren across the country, was introduced as an incentive for children to go to school.

After Bihar's tragic deaths on Tuesday, shocking reports are emerging from other parts of the country, forcing state governments to order strict checks on the hygiene standards. On Thursday, 170 children fell ill after lunch at a school in Neyveli, in Tamilnadu's Cuddalore district.
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