JAGATSINGHPUR: Amid bird flu scare, bananas and pakodas have replaced eggs in the mid-day meal (MDM) plates in many schools in Jagatsinghpur district. Though no official instruction has been issued to the educational institutions in this regard, panicked authorities have decided to serve eggs in noon meals and substitute it with the vegetarian fare.
Last week, the death of a large number of crows and pigeons had triggered panic in the district with locals suspecting bird flu. Around 30 crows and pigeons had died mysteriously in Nayabazaar, Badapadaia, Atharbanki, Neheruabangla and Sandhkuda in Paradip. An alert was sounded and surveillance intensified in the coastal pockets. Veterinary officials had collected samples and sent those to Animal Disease Research Institute (ADRI) lab in Cuttack for tests.
Nearly 1.75 lakh students from Classes I to VIII in 1,381 Government schools are being provided with MDM. Every Wednesday and Saturday, eggs are being served to each student. Following bird flu scare, panicked parents and students urged the school authorities not to supply eggs in the noon meals.
Sarat Kanungo, headmaster of a Government-run school, said, “We had no intention to provide bananas and ‘pakodas’ under MDM scheme. But following pressure from the parents, we distributed these snacks to students.”
Meanwhile, the move has not been taken lightly by the School and Mass Education department. District Education Officer (DEO) Prativa Manjari Das visited different schools and issued show-cause notices to several headmasters for supplying ‘pakodas.’In view of avian influenza, Puri district administration had also prohibited eggs in schools and Anganwadi centres recently.
In February, bird flu was reported from the port township after samples collected from different poultry farms and dead crows tested positive for the H5N1 virus. Around 1,823 birds were culled and 2,109 eggs destroyed in the wake of bird flu confirmation.
Show-cause notice issued
District Education Officer (DEO) Prativa Manjari Das visited different schools and issued show-cause notices to several headmasters for supplying ‘pakodas.’ She also interacted with parents and teachers regarding bird flu scare in the area.