Thursday, February 8, 2024

NHRC notice to Bihar Government regarding illness of 184 students after consuming Mid-Day-Meal in West Champaran

Report sought in four weeks in the matter as well as the action taken to prevent such incidents

On February 7, 2024, the National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that 184 students of a government-run middle school at Bansgaon Parsauni in West Champaran District of Bihar fell ill after consuming Mid-Day-Meal on February 5, 2024. Reportedly, the students complained of getting the smell of kerosene oil from the meal. They also complained of stomach aches and vomiting after which they were taken to the hospitals.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the news report, if true, amount to a serious violation of the human rights of the students. The reported incident indicates towards supervisory lapse on the part of the school authorities perhaps due to which unhygienic food was prepared and served to the children.

Accordingly, the Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Bihar calling for a detailed report in the matter within 4 weeks. It should include the steps taken/ proposed to be taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur. The Commission would like to know whether the Government guidelines are being followed by the particular school, if not, then what action has been taken against the officers/officials responsible for the negligence.

Issuing the notice, the Commission has noted that there are certain guidelines issued by the Government of India to all the States and Union Territories about food safety and hygiene in school kitchens for preparing and serving Mid-Day Meal. The tasting of the food and maintaining its record by a teacher is also mandatory before serving it to the children.

According to the media report, carried on February 6, 2023 students were taken to the Bettiah Government Medical College and Hospital and Government Sub-Divisional Hospital Bagaha. The Headmaster of the school has been detained.

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