Though none had fallen sick earlier, they did say that some days the food smelt bad and even cockroaches were found
On most days, 13-year-old Soni carries a packed lunch to school, but on Thursday she was running late and opted instead to eat the mid-day meal served to students in the school. Hours later, she along with her classmate Poonam Kumari were on drips at the Lal Bahadhur Shastri Hospital in Patparganj.
Soni and Poonam were among the 12 students of the Rajkiya Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya who were admitted to hospital after they complained of stomach pain and nausea after eating the rajma and puri distributed in their school earlier in the day.
It was seven-year-old Tanisha’s mother who alerted the other parents when she opened her daughter’s lunchbox to find tiny, white, worm-like particles in the rajma. “My daughter-in-law asked a neighbour what the white things were and she said it looked like worms. So she rushed to school and told the other parents and students,” said Tanisha’s grandmother, Kamlesh, a resident of Patparganj’s Shastri Mohalla.
At the hospital, students between the 6-10 age group, who were admitted in the paediatrics ward, confirmed that they noticed “white fat worms” in the rajma that they consumed in school. “Usually, our teacher checks our food but today she did not,” said Class IV student Priyanka Kumar. The students also said the principal of their school fled from the premises.
While none of the students could remember falling sick in the past after consuming the mid-day meal, they did mention that some days the food smelt bad and sometime they had seen lizards and cockroaches in it.
One of the student’s mother, Moni Devi, said she had given her daughter noodles to school but her daughter still had the mid-day meal. “My daughter complained of nausea and I thought she had eaten something outside. Then she told me she had eaten the rajma in school,” she said.
The Delhi Government Deputy Director of Education (East) Saroj Bala Sain said she immediately sent two principals to the hospital. Further, officials from the Midday Meal Branch and representatives of Sriram Institute for Industrial Research had also reached the school for lifting food samples for lab test, said a statement.
According to the government, the supplier of the meal, Bharat Ratan Dr. Bheem Rao Ambedkar Dalit Utthan Evom Shiksha Samiti had on Thursday supplied meals to three other schools that fall in the same zone but no complaint was received from the other schools. “Menu of the day for all these schools was the same of rajma and puri,” the statement added.
Hospital authorities said the condition of the students was stable and they were expected to be discharged late on Thursday.