The letter was sent after an applicant seeking information under the RTI filed a complaint with the NHRC when he became aware of 74 cases of students falling ill in the state in the last five years
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has written to the ministry of Human Resource and Development at the Central Government to look into the matter of children falling ill after the midday meal initiated by them.
The letter was sent after an applicant seeking information under the RTI filed a complaint with the NHRC when he became aware of 74 cases of students falling ill in the state in the last five years.
Maharashtra has ranked third in the list of the number of cases regarding children falling ill after consuming midday meal in schools.
In the past five years, in Maharashtra, at least 467 school students fell sick after consuming food under a midday meal scheme at schools across the state.
While the complaint filed by the activist on September 16 was tabled before the NHRC on November 1, the Commission has asked the secretary to take appropriate action within eight weeks.
Chetan Kothari who registered the complaint, said, "A committee must be formed to make a report on the food safety matters in midday meal, preventive measures to be undertaken for any future calamity, and implementation of the same must be ensured in a time-bound manner. Surprise tests, visits from the Centre to the midday meal centres must be made compulsory."
As per the state-wise data received, from 2013 to 2017, of the 74 cases of children falling sick/death due to midday meal in India, Bihar tops the list with 17 cases reported. It is followed by Uttar Pradesh with 12 cases reported, Maharashtra and Odisha with eight cases each.
Kothari, said, "While total 4, 278 children fell sick due to contaminated food across India, if we see the trend in Maharashtra, in 2014 only 30 children were reported falling ill, in 2015 the number raised to 236 which is like an eight-time rise in the number of children falling ill. Unfortunately, no data is available on what action has been taken, or how many FIR's filed."