Dead snake in mid-day meal, 51 taken ill


Kolkata : Fifty-one people, including 43 children, were taken ill after a dead snake was found in a pot of cooked rice gruel at a mid-day meal centre for students in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, officials said Saturday.

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The incident occurred at an Integrated Child Development Scheme centre at Rampurhat Friday. It created a stir with Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee terming it as “gross negligence” and demanding stern action against those responsible.

“The eight adults and 43 children had bouts of vomiting out of shock after the snake was spotted in the bowl Friday. They were kept under observation for several hours in the hospital but released in the evening as there was no evidence of food poisoning,” Superintendent of Rampurhat sub-divisional hospital Himadri Haldar told IANS over phone Saturday.

Sub-Divisional Officer A. Sengupta said the small snake must have fallen from the tin shade under which the food was being cooked.

“I had asked for a report and got it today (Saturday). I have forwarded it to the district magistrate,” Sengupta said.

Asked whether action would be taken against those found guilty, the official sounded evasive. “Only the district magistrate can say this. But I feel it is not possible for the cooks and the supervisors to keep watch on the gruel every second. Do women in our household do that?” he countered.