Patna, Sept. 14: The children of Dharmasati-Gandaman village have started to take their own water bottles to school because they know the vessels cannot harm them.
The memories of the midday meal tragedy at Gandaman Primary School in July are still fresh in the minds of the survivors and their parents. The families are not taking any chances and insistent on taking every precaution that can save the children from the fate of the 23 students who died in the tragedy.
All this is worrying for the district administration though. Their persuasion powers are failing.
Classes of the primary school, where the midday meal tragedy struck, have since moved to the middle school in the village. But the students refuse to eat the food prepared on the institution’s premises, forcing the midday meal scheme into suspension.
Sources said the students and their parents are exercising more caution because of rumours of hand pumps near government schools being poisoned. These rumours are circulating since the midday meal tragedy on July 16, they said.
Pramod Singh, the midday meal in-charge of Masrakh block, told The Telegraph today: “We are worried. The students have started to bring their own water bottles, refusing to drink even a drop of water from the hand pump on the school campus. I had visited the school, along with the midday meal in-charge of Saran district (Shabbir Hassan), around two weeks back. We drank the water from the hand pump to instil confidence in the students, but they still refused.”
The suspension of the midday meal scheme is another source of worry. “Though the students have slowly started to come to school, they are refusing to eat the midday meal. There have been lots of attempts to make them understand but in vain. At present, there are three cooks in the school but none of them is working. We do not know when things will become absolutely normal in the village,” Singh said.
Another district administration official said: “Officials have been instructed to visit the village frequently in a bid to connect with the people and bring back their confidence.”