A sudden spurt in reports of water contamination in schools across Bihar has put the government in a fix. A water alert has been sent out in schools owing to a recent spurt of incidents of children taking ill after drinking water from school hand-pumps in the State, still reeling under the Chapra mid-day meal tragedy.
On Friday two incidents of contaminated water were reported from Sitamarhi and Sheikhpura districts.
In Sitamarhi, 63 girls of the Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalay were rushed to the local healthcare centre upon complaints of a burning sensation in the throat after they drank water from the school hand-pump. The school warden and two teachers also suffered similar symptoms. From there, 43 students were referred to the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur district.
“All the children are doing fine. They have not showed any symptoms of poisoning. They mostly felt anxiety. The matter I under investigation,” Sitamarhi district magistrate Pratima Verma told The Hindu.
Suspecting foul play, the school teachers registered an FIR against unknown persons under sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code. “The forensic team and the Public Health and Engineering Department will examine the sample,” superintendent of police Pankaj Sinha said.
Meanwhile in Sheikhpura, complaints of foul smell from the water tank of a school spread a scare in the area on Thursday night. As a precaution, the cook and the students drained out the water.
“The water had a foul smell which could be because of the general poor quality of water, but the smell was not worth ignoring. It was a scare, but the scare could be real. The water was drained out thrice. Water samples have been sent for testing. We are keeping a vigil on the water resources in schools. A record of the incident has been made in the station diary,” district magistrate Sanjay Singh said.
These incidents come closely on the heels of Thursday’s water contamination scare in Chapra, where 11 children where sent for medical treatment after they complained of dizziness and stomach ache.
The incidents have raised the hackles of the State administration and the State police have been asked to investigate the entire series of cases.
“We have issue an alert of water alert across schools. I have spoken to the forensic laboratory and they are testing the water samples. These incidents are appalling and it’s shocking to what level people could go. Someone is trying to disturb the school system as there has been a sharp increase in children going to schools. Somebody is playing mischief. We have been facing these incidents continuously for the past six to seven days. Our teams are on alert,” Amarjit Sinha, principle secretary, Education, told The Hindu.