'Idli tastes like bleaching powder'

Tejaswini, a sixth standard student of Sri Morarji Desai Model (SMDM) Residential School, was admitted to the hospital on Thursday as she vomited and complained of stomach pain after consuming the breakfast served at the school. She was administered Intra Venous (IV) fluids and kept under observation at the hospital like 60 other students, who are admitted with same conditions.

One of the four residential schools in the State, run by the Department of Social Welfare, the children living here are deprived of hygienic food and clean water.

A 10th standard student, Gurumurthy said that sometimes they find worms in the sambar served for lunch. “The quality of meals has dropped since June. The ration that is provided at the school is of sub-standard quality. We see rodents and lizards running around in the kitchen,” he added. Getting clean drinking water is far from reality for these students.

Another student Sunil Kumar pointed out, “On Thursday morning, when we accompanied the teachers to check the stored water, we found four dead lizards in it. The teachers check the stored water every second day and it is the same case every time. Sometimes we also find dead rodents in the stored water.” And it is the same water they use for drinking and other purposes, he adds.

The school authorities did not make any attempt to inform the parents about the situation. However, only three parents were informed that their wards were admitted to Vani Vilas Hospital. Shantamma, a vendor, whose twin daughters are admitted due to food poisoning, was shocked that the school authorities did not inform parents.  “Parents want their children to be educated, but not to the extent that their life is in danger. We trusted the school to provide education for my daughters, and not poisonous food,“ wailed Shantamma.

Father rushes to hospital
Shivaninjaiah, a daily wage worker, whose son and daughter are students of this school, are also admitted. “I got to know around 12 in the noon, that both my children were admitted at Vani Vilas Hospital. We rushed to the hospital, as an auto driver ferrying sick children from the school to the hospital informed us,” Shivaninjaiah said. He complained that the school authorities should have informed the parents about the incident.

Principal of SMDM Residential School Kasturi Kumar said that it was the first time that such an incident had occurred. The food samples have been sent to the laboratory for testing, she said. As soon as the students began to complain about the breakfast, the in-house staff made a clever decision to eat in a nearby restaurant.

Says teacher Mahesh, “The ration provided for the school comes from the co-operative society. Tenders are called for, and the selected bidder sends the monthly provisions to the school.”

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