BC welfare officer Yasodhana Rao said, "The hostel environment was new to them. This apart, the fear of the examination too might have made them sick." (Representational Photo: DC)
Visakhapatnam: A failure to observe the fundamental rules of tasting before serving food to children led to the food poisoning in the BC Welfare Hostel for Girls in Kothavalasa under Vizianagaram district and the MPP School in Kona village under Makkuva mandal of Parvatipuram Manyam district.
In Kothavalasa, 12 out of the 64 girls fell sick. In Kona village school, 22 students were taken ill out of the 144 students.
In Kothavalasa, lemon rice (pulihora) was served to all the students on Tuesday morning, following which 12 reported 'sick' and nine of them were admitted into PHCs and other hospitals.
Warden G. Sridevi avoided living in the hostel, though this was mandatory for all the girls hostels. On that day, she came to school late. By then, the students were already served the breakfast," said BC welfare officer Yasodhana Rao.
He said the rice was freshly cooked and then it was turned into lemon rice. All the students who fell sick hailed from remote villages and were new entrants to the hostel.
The hostel environment was new to them. This apart, the fear of the examination too might have made them sick, he claimed.
In his inquiry report submitted to the Vizianagaram collector, the welfare officer mentioned these matters.
A similar lapse was reported from Kona village of Makkuva mandal in Parvatipuram Manya district on Wednesday, a day after the Kothavalasa incident. Around 22 students of the MPP high school of this village were taken ill after they consumed vegetable biryani.
Headmaster P. Jaykumar said it was his duty to taste the food and enter it in the register but he could not. He went out to the DEO office to collect examination papers and hence the task was assigned to his assistant, he claimed.
He said as per an inquiry, the cooking gas got exhausted when the biryani was only half-cooked. The cooking staff went to the gas agency 3km away for a refill. Before it was recooked, a portion of food was tasted and a mention was made in the tasting register that it was not suitable for the feeding of the students.
After the food was heated, it was not tasted by the assistant headmaster or the concerned teacher.
"The DWCRA group that was entrusted with cooking the mid-day meals in this school however persuaded the teachers to serve the food, leading to the illness of 22 students. The group wielded influence in the village,’’ headmaster Jaykumar said.
"It is common with all such hostels and schools that low quality food is served to the students who hail from poor families. The government allots a limited budget and wants maximum output. There is also no general supervision on food quality," said P Mani, state general secretary of the Anganwadi workers welfare association.