Kendrapara: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Chief Secretary to pay Rs 1,60,000 to the students who fell ill after eating mid-day meal (MDM) at Arteswar Upper Primary School in Kendrapara district and submit proof of payment before it.
The NHRC passed the order based on a petition filed by rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy.
Tripathy said 32 students of the Jagannathapur-based school fell ill November 16, 2016 after eating egg curry in their MDM. A dead caterpillar was found in the curry, and it led to headache and vomiting among the students.
Tripathy requested an independent investigation, legal action and compensation for the students.
After the NHRC issued the notice, the District Education Officer-cum-District Nodal Officer (MDM) held an inquiry November 22, 2016 in the presence of school teachers, SMC members and villagers.
On the basis of the report of the Kendrapara DEO, Jayanti Panda, a ZP Teacher of the school, was suspended as per the DEO’s order No: 387 December 7, 2016. Subsequently charges were framed against the teacher by the DEO of Kendrapara.
The NHRC issued a notice under Section 18 of the PHR Act to the Chief Secretary to show-cause why the Commission should not recommend a monetary compensation of Rs 5,000 each to all the children who suffered due to the negligence of school officials.
The Joint Secretary of the School and Mass Education Department submitted that the government had taken immediate steps on the day of the incident by shifting students to the nearest hospital.
Action was also taken against the errant teacher, cook and helper. They were relieved from their duties and the school authorities were cautioned to be careful in future.
The government asked the Commission to reconsider its recommendation to pay monetary compensation to students.
A similar report dated March 23, 2018 was also received from the DEO of Kendrapara on action taken in the matter. The Commission considered the request.
The NHRC found the response to the show-cause notice was not based on merits. The students suffered due to the negligence of the school authorities.
The show-cause notice issued was confirmed, and an amount of Rs 5,000 each was ordered to be paid as interim relief to all the students. Although the deadline has passed the Chief Secretary has not submitted the proof of payment.