KENDRAPARA: Teacher of a Government-run school and two women cooks were suspended for negligence in cooking mid-day meals, on Saturday. As many as 40 students of Arteswar Upper Primary school in Jagannathpur village under Derabishi block were hospitalised on November 16 after consuming curry containing dead caterpillars during their midday meal. The food was thrown away after one of the students found the dead insects in the curry.
Jayanti Panda, a teacher of the school and two mid-day meal cooks Basanti Panda and Sanjukta Das were suspended following an inquiry into the incident. Inquiry revealed that caterpillars had fallen into the egg curry while it was being cooked by Basanti and Sanjukta.
Although Jayanti, who was in charge of mid-day meals that day, was supposed to check the quality of food before it was served to children, she did not do so. Soon after the meal the students began vomiting and complained of loose motion. They were admitted to Derabish community health centre and later shifted to Kendrapara district headquarters hospital,” said Sangram Keshari Sahoo the district education officer. After the incident, locals locked the school for five days and demanded stern action against the teacher and cooks.
Implementation of the mid-day meal scheme in schools in Kendrapara in the absence of requisite staff has thrown up challenges for the teachers. The teachers either remain busy in preparing the meal or managing the children waiting anxiously for the food. Some schools spend more money on transportation and fail to provide vegetables to the students.
In many areas local people accuse teachers of pilfering rice and money meant for the scheme. “Since a meagre amount is being paid to the cooks, teachers in many schools often have to try their hand at culinary skills. One can imagine the scenario in single teacher schools. There are nearly 75 such schools in the district,” said a teacher.