Foodgrains supplied to government -run residential schools in Maharashtra's tribal areas were "infected" and not fit for consumption, the Central Bureau of Investigation told the Bombay High Court on Monday. Following the High Court's earlier orders in the case, CBI teams collected samples of foodgrains supplied to `ashram shalas' in the areas on June 18-19.
Submitting an interim report of the probe on Monday, Additional Solicitor General Darius Khambata told the court "except for two places, foodgrains in all other godowns were not fit for human consumption. Grains were infected with rats, larvae, insects and the storage facilities are poor," he said. The ASG told the court that CBI will file a chargesheet against the guilty government officials by September 10. The court had taken suo motu notice of the reports of supply of substandard food to 'ashram shalas' along with another report about deaths of five children in a school at Dahanu, in neighbouring Thane district, in 2007.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice A M Khanwilkar today directed the chief secretary to form a committee, and come out with a scheme to ensure supply of proper food to tribal students within two weeks. Action should be taken against the officers found guilty by CBI, the court said. Foodgrains for tribal schools are procured from National Cooperative Consumers' Federation as per government policy. The court said on Monday that the government should review this policy since the NCCF was supplying foodgrains at a high cost. The court was also told that in July this year, four tribal children in various 'ashram shalas' died of snake bites. Flaying the government on this issue, the Bench said "The Government has failed to perform (its) constitutional duty of protecting lives of young children under Article 21. Steps should be taken to shift students to safer accommodations."