Set up monitoring committee for mid-day meals, NGO urges PM

Last Updated: Sat, Jul 20, 2013 17:30 hrs

New Delhi, July 20 (IANS) Several school children and activists Saturday protested here demanding strict action against those responsible for the death of 23 children in Bihar after eating a contaminated mid-day meal.

The activists also wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to form a monitoring committee.

Organised by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and its partners, the protesters gathered at Jantar Mantar and said that the scheme posed a grave risk to the health of several children.

"There is enough proof that criminal negligence, widespread apathy and deep rooted corruption are prevalent in the mid-day meal scheme. Complaints related to insufficient quantity, nutrient value and hygiene are most common, but children have no say at all," said BBA in a statement.

Kailash Satyarthi, founder of BBA, said a complete overhaul of the system was the need of the hour.

"Such appalling treatment is not even meted out to animals the prime minister is tight-lipped as usual, and politicians are busy in the blame game, because the public has a short memory. We call for a complete overhaul of this scheme."

BBA submitted a charter of demands to the prime minister underpinning the constitution of a high power judicial committee headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court with a time-bound mandate to inquire into the lapses in the mid-day meal scheme.

It also demanded compensation of Rs.5 lakh each for the families of victims.

On July 16, nearly 50 children were admitted to hospital in Chhapra, Saran district of Bihar, after taking ill soon after eating their free lunch at school, provided as part of the government's midday meal scheme. Of the sick children, 23 died. The food is suspected to have contained chemicals found in insecticides.

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