Bihar mid-day meal tragedy: Poisonous pesticide found in oil

MiddayA boy shouts slogans holding a placards during a protest organized by non-governmental organization Bachpan Bachao Andolan, or Save Childhood Movement, against the death of schoolchildren after eating free midday meal served at a school.AP

A forensic report today confirmed the presence of poisonous pesticide in the midday meal served to the students of the school in Chhapra where 23 children died after taking the contaminated food. The Forensic Science Laboratory report found Monocrotophos, an organophosphorous compound in the samples of oil from the container, food remains on the platter and mixture of rice with vegetables on Aluminium tasla (utensil), Additional Director General of Police (HQ) Ravinder Kumar told reporters making the report public. Monocrotophos is used as a pesticide for agricultural purposes. It is very toxic to human beings and other animals, the ADG said quoting the FSL report.

The report confirmed the Bihar government's apprehension that the food given to the children of Dharmasati Gandaman primary school at Chhapra was poisoned. A total 23 children died after eating the meal while 24 others and the cook Manju Devi are undergoing treatment at Patna Medical College and Hospital. "It was also observed from the data available in the FSL report that the peak area of the poisonous substance in the oil was more than 5 times in comparison to the commercial preparation used as a control," the ADG said. The ADG said the sample results were compared with a control standard (Hilcron) procured from the market. The peak retention times matched the sample, which again confirmed the presence of the pesticide in the samples.

To highlight authenticity, the report said results were interpreted using NIST library, which is an internationally accepted database. The FSL scientists tested samples of the suspected poisonous cooking medium found in a plastic container, the cooking utensil and the leftover food from a platter, Kumar said quoting the report. Some other material like froth from the mouth of one sick child, which was collected in a cotton gauge, water and oil was taken from the place of occurance by the police were also subjected to forensic analysis, he said adding the scientists used standard analytical method on GCMS instrument for the lab test. Details like from where the killer pesticide came and who mixed it in oil would be answered in reports of the police investigation which is still in progress.

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