Bangalore, Sep 18, 2013, DHNS:
Six-year-old Anusha died an untimely death, in an unlikely way. On Wednesday, she succumbed to burns sustained after falling into a vessel of hot “sambar” at her school in Gauribidnur taluk a day before.
The class I student of Darinayakanapalya Government Primary School barely knew that an attempt to overcome hunger could turn fatal.
A group of around 20 children had come running out of their class at 1 pm on Tuesday. Hungry, all they wanted was to grab a plate-full of midday meal. Teachers were busy in the staff room while cooks were in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the vessel of “sambar” did not have a lid on it.
“We heard some noise and found that Anusha had slipped into the container. She was crying for help. A few of us tried to pull her out. Teachers rushed out after hearing a commotion,” a student told the press.
Anusha was the youngest daughter of Ashwathappa and Venkatalakshmi, both labourers. She was admitted to Victoria Hospital with more than 80 per cent burns. Doctors had said they would comment on her condition only after 48 hours. However, efforts to revive her failed.
Her parents and elder brother Anand were inconsolable. Villagers even staged a protest and held up cremation until the local MLA and the primary and secondary education minister arrived. Gauribidnur MLA N H Shivashankar promised a compensation of Rs 50,000 to Anusha’s parents.
“I will make efforts to get the compensation from the taluk and zilla panchayats and employment for her parents, besides housing facility. I will ensure stern action against errant teachers,” he said.
The school of over 120 students has 11 teachers. Deputy Director of Public Instructions (DDPI) Ajit Prasad said: “Headmaster Krishnappa has been suspended and all cooks sacked. Certain instructions were issued to all schools serving midday meal, but most schools flout norms.”
This is the second such incident in the State in 10 days. Santosh Parappa Hanumannavar also died after falling into a vessel of hot “sambar” in Jaganur Government Primary School in Chikkodi taluk. He died at a government hospital in Belgaum. Midday meal joint director Jayakumar said: “It is an unfortunate incident and the schools should adopt strict rules while serving meals.”
He said when food is being served, teachers should ensure that the children stand in a queue. “Here the children were let free. This led to the accident,” he said.
Jayakumar said the schools should not leave big vessels of sambar and rice outside the kitchen. Instead, they should use small buckets. Besides, the children should not be allowed near the kitchen.
A government school teacher from Chintamani said: “The teachers leave the students alone and have their lunch, there are only two to three midday meal staff. It becomes difficult for them to handle the students. The education department should make it a rule that the teachers should be with the children while they are having lunch.”