Centre forms panel to test quality of mid-day meal as Bihar death toll rises to 23

ChildrenChildren eat free school lunch at a school in Bodhgaya, Bihar, Wednesday, July 17, 2013. (AP)

In the wake of the mid-day meal tragedy in Bihar, the Centre today decided to constitute a monitoring committee to look into the quality of food supplied even as it said that it had issued alerts to 12 Bihar districts after shortcomings were found in implementation of the scheme.

Warning ignored: Quality of mid-day meals in Bihar was already a concern

The committee is expected to supplement the efforts of the existing mid-day meal monitoring committee which meets twice a year and warns the states if there are any shortcomings.

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Asked if any warnings were issued to Bihar by the committee earlier this year after some shortcomings in the implementation of the programme were identified, HRD Minister M M Pallam Raju replied in the affirmative.

"Yes, apparently there has been. There were 12 districts that were identified and alerts were sent and Saran (hit by the incident) was among them," he told reporters here today on the sidelines of a function.

He, however, said they do not wish to highlight the issue right now and play a blame game over it as the death of the children have shocked all.

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The focus would now be on strengthening the programme and to ensure such incidents does not "recur again", he said. He said in the wake of the tragedy that claimed 22 lives, the Centre has decided to constitute a quality monitoring committee to look into the quality of food supplied and ensure effectiveness of the supply chain and proper hygiene.

The committee is expected to supplement the efforts of the existing midday meal monitoring committee which meets twice a year and warns the states if there are any shortcomings."We have decided to form a committee which will look into the qualitative aspect of implementation of the programme, the quality of the food that is supplied, the effectiveness of the supply chain and the hygiene of the place where it is cooked," he said.

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