A primary school was allegedly caught giving adulterated milk to its students as part of their mid-day meal in Sonbhadra, Uttar Pradesh. A video demonstrating the cook adding one litre of milk to a bucket of water went viral on social media this Tuesday, on November 26.
The incident took place at Salai Banwa Primary School in the Salaibanwa area of Kota village in Sonbhadra. According to the mid-day meal (MDM) menu prescribed by the Uttar Pradesh government, the school children are supposed to be served tehri (rice) with milk.
The school’s head Shailesh Kanaujia washed his hands of the incident. In a statement, he said, “There are 171 children enrolled in the school,” he said. “Eighty-one children were present on that day. I have the responsibility to look after two schools. Milk had to be arranged for both schools and I could not monitor the quantity of milk that reached government primary school in Salai Banwa. The cook was provided the milk, which was distributed among the children and they drank it.”
The area’s Block Education Officer Mukesh Rai said that he received information from locals that water was added to the milk and served to the children. He said a probe had been ordered into the incident and strict action will be taken so that such instances are never repeated in future.
The Basic Shiksha Adhikari Gorakhnath Patel reportedly said, “Such laxity will not be tolerated. A probe has been ordered into the matter. A team of Education Department officials will conduct a probe and submit a report within two days. Strict action will be taken against whosoever is found guilty in the probe.”
India Today reported that since the video showing milk adulteration went viral, an FIR has been lodged against the Shiksha Mitra Jitendra while a teacher of the school has been suspended.
This incident comes months after a government primary school in UP’s Mirzapur was found serving salt-roti and salt-rice to children in the name of mid-day meals. The locals had alleged that they were told milk would be distributed to the school, but it was never served to the children.
In September 2019, at least 28 workers from three districts (Rae Bareli, Kannauj and Pratapgarh) in Uttar Pradesh were booked for selling MDM food for cash. Raids led to the recovery of large quantities of food grain meant for the scheme in the warehouse of a private trader in Rae Bareli. About 155 bags of children’s meals (about 9,300 kilos) were found at an animal fodder godown in the Salon block of Rae Bareli. Initial investigation revealed that the nutritional meals were to be distributed in anganwadis of Pratapgarh’s Rampur Khaas and other areas. But instead, it was kept in godowns and illegally sold to people.
The HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told the Lok Sabha last week that the most number of complaints about MDM was reported from Uttar Pradesh at 14 of 52. In the funds released by the Centre for MDM Scheme, Uttar Pradesh received the highest amount, at about Rs. 11.2 billion.