Expressing sorrow over the death of over 20 children in Bihar due to food poisoning, Union HRD Minister M.M. Pallam Raju on Wednesday asked states to exercise caution while implementing the midday meal scheme.

“I came to know about the sad incident where 20 have died. I have taken serious note of it. Our additional secretary has rushed to the spot to have a first hand report. It looks like a case of contamination of food but we are awaiting forensic report,” Mr. Raju said.

“This is an example where we should exercise caution. We will know the forensic report by Wednesday evening,” he said.

The HRD Ministry has asked for a report of the incident from the Bihar government while the Union School Education Secretary has spoken to Bihar Chief Secretary on the issue.

Terming the incident as “unfortunate”, Minister of State for HRD Jitin Prasada said it should not be politicised.

“The mid-day meal scheme guidelines say the cooked food should be tested by two adults before serving, while the teachers should also look into the quality of food and the cleanliness of the utensils,” he said.

Mr. Prasada said the monitoring mechanism should be strengthened as it is the responsibility of the district administration and the village heads to ensure its proper implementation.

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