Kendrapara (Odisha) : As many as 34 students of a government-run upper primary school in Odisha’s Kendrapara district were hospitalised today after consuming curry containing dead caterpillars during their midday meal. The incident took place at Arteswar upper primary school in Jagannathpur village and the food was thrown away after one of the students found the dead insects in the curry. “The food was thrown away in the backyard of the school,” said its headmistress Jayanti Panda. Soon after the meal the students began vomiting and complained of loose motion.
They were admitted to Derabish community health centre and later shifted to Kendrapara district headquarters hospital, said school officials. Majority of the students admitted at the hospital later recovered and were discharged. “However, we have kept three children under medical observation. Intake of contaminated food resulted in their sickness,” said Chief District Medical Officer, Niranjan Swain. He said the children fell sick due to food poisoning. “The food served to the students was either stale or unfit for human consumption,” Swain said. “Officials are making on-the-spot investigation of the incident.
Those found responsible for serving substandard contaminated food will be taken to task,” said district education officer Sangram Sahoo. Implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools in Kendrapara in the absence of requisite staff has thrown up challenges for the teachers. The teachers either remain busy in preparing the meal or managing the children waiting anxiously for the food. Some schools spend more money on transportation and fail to provide vegetables to the students. In many areas local people accuse teachers of pilfering rice and money meant for the scheme. “Since a meagre amount is being paid to the cooks, teachers in many schools often have to try their hand at culinary skills. One can imagine the scenario in single teacher schools. There are nearly 75 such schools in the district,” said a teacher.