Patna, July 20: Bihar government on Friday expressed "surprise" over the Centre's assertion that it had sent alerts for 12 Bihar districts, including Saran, where 23 children died after consuming midday meal.
"We are surprised over the assertions of the Union government over sending alerts...no alerts ever came to us," Principal Secretary HRD Amarjeet Sinha told reporters.
Sinha said a general communique had come in April regarding poor performance in coverage of midday meal scheme in 144 districts of the country. "The letter dated April 18, 2013 written by Amarjit Singh, Additional Secretary, pointed to reasons for poor coverage of the scheme in 144 districts of the country and had asked officials to take steps to enroll more students in the programme," Sinha said.
In fact a central government report praised performance of Bihar in increasing coverage area under midday meal scheme, Sinha accompanied by Director, Midday meal scheme R Lakshamanan said. As per the "Annual Status of Education Report (ASER), 2012, the coverage area in Bihar of the programme which was 57.2 per cent in 2010 increased to 75 per cent last year, Sinha said.
The ASER report also hailed performance on other counts like increase in availability of drinking water, toilets, kitchen shed and library available and books used in schools in the state during the period, the Principal Secretary said.
On the FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) report on whether the food served at primary school Dharamsati Gandaman on Tuesday last contained poisonous pesticide, Sinha said the lab test is taking more time and the report is expected either late tonight or tomorrow.