New Delhi: Expressing sorrow at the death of over 20 children in Bihar due to spurious midday meal, HRD Minister MM Pallam Raju on Wednesday said the incident looked like a case of contaminated food and asked states to exercise caution while implementing the 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," Raju said.
"This is an example where we should exercise caution. We will know the forensic report by this 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.
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.
The mid-day meal programme is one of the largest programmes in the world, serving hot cooked food to over 10 crore children in more than 11 lakh schools across the country.