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Mid day meal tragedy: Mass grave in school premises marks families' anger, grief


Prabhakar Kumar, Marya Shakil, Bhupendra Chaubey, CNN-IBN
Jul 18, 2013 at 10:59pm IST

Chhapra: Till Tuesday the school playground in which children used to play has been turned into a graveyard. Families of the children who lost their lives after eating mid day meals in Chhapra are now burying their kids in the premises of the Dharmatalli government primary school.

Gomtidevi is inconsolable; the news of the death of her two children was delivered to her days after the incident. The family says 7-yaer-old Rinku and 8-year-old brother loved going to school and wanted to be doctors.

ALSO SEE HRD Ministry had warned Bihar about hygiene issues with mid day meals

Meanwhile, jolted by the mid day meal tragedy in Chhapra in Bihar, students at various government schools across the state on Thursday refused to eat the food served to them. "Our parents have told us not to eat these food," student Shivani said.

So, did the state government ignore prior warnings of the problems in the mid day meals given by the centre? HRD Ministry minutes of the meeting of April 23, 2013, shows clearly that the centre had shared reports on mid day meals prepared by two monitoring institutions which had talked about glaring flaws in the scheme in Bihar.

ALSO SEE Bihar denies receiving warning from HRD Ministry

"We had alerted the Bihar government quite a few months back about shortcomings in its food storage. We had expected that the Bihar government would have acted on the recommendations," HRD Minister Pallam Raju said while admitting that there has been a failure on the part of the Nitish Kumar government in ensuring hygienic mid day meals for students across the state.

The state government, however, insists that it has done everything that could be done. It has even asking school principals to taste the cooked food themselves, before serving it to children.

Specific violations:

- How come Vegetable oil and pesticide were kept in same premises?

- According to rules Head-Master/Principal/Cook has to taste the food before being served to children.

However, after 36 hours of the incident, no arrests have been made so far.

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