Zee Media Bureau
Patna: The blamegame over the responsibility of the deaths of 23 children, who died after eating a mid-day meal, continued on Thursday when the state government blamed the school authorities for the tragedy.
Addressing a press conference, principal secretary, education, Amarjeet Sinha, pointed out three lapses on the part of school authorities, which ultimately led to the deaths of innocent children.
Confirming the death toll at 23, Sinha said the case seemed to be of like poison in food rather than food poisoning. "Had it been a case of (natural) food poisoning, so many children would not have died," he said.
On Wednesday, Bihar Education Minister PK Shahi also claimed that the meal was deliberately poisoned.
He said that post-mortem report on 23 children is expected on Friday, adding that the investigation by the State Forensic Science Laboratory (SFSL) is underway.
Sinha noted three lapses on the part of school authorities. One, how come oil and pesticide were kept in the same premises, asked the Bihar official.
Second, he pointed out that when the cook complained to the headmistress of the school, who is absconding, about the smell of cooking oil used to prepare food, she insisted on its use and the cook made the food. "Why did headmistress not pay heed to cook`s complaint," asked Sinha.
Third, he mentioned that guidelines were not followed before serving the food to the children. "According to rules headmaster/principal/cook has to taste the food before being served to children. This was not done."
The Bihar`s principal secretary, education, also noted that many schools in the states don`t have their own land, adding the school at which the tragedy occurred also did not have its own building.
Sinha said the government would build kitchen sheds and storage rooms to ensure proper implementation of mid-day meal schemes. There are 13,500 schools where we don`t have land to construct a kitchen shed, added Sinha.
On Wednesday, Bihar Education Minister PK Shahi said that a preliminary investigation suggested that the food served to the children contained an organophosphate used as an insecticide on rice and wheat crops.
Post-mortem reports on 23 children confirmed that insecticide was either in the food or cooking oil, a doctor has been quoted as saying by a news agency.