Dead snake found in mid-day meal packet, claim parents; probe launched

A tiny dead snake was allegedly found in a packet distributed under the mid-day meal scheme meant for children aged between six months and three years at an 'Anganwadi' or a government-run nursery school in western Maharashtra's Sangli district, prompting the authorities to launch a probe.
Representative image
Representative image

Sangli | A tiny dead snake was allegedly found in a packet distributed under the mid-day meal scheme meant for children aged between six months and three years at an 'Anganwadi' or a government-run nursery school in western Maharashtra's Sangli district, prompting the authorities to launch a probe.

The incident was reported by the parents of a child in Palus on Monday, said Anandi Bhosale, Vice-President of the State Anganwadi Workers' Union.

Calling it a "serious" incident, Congress leader and Palus-Kadegaon MLA Vishwajeet Kadam raised the issue in the state legislative assembly in the ongoing monsoon session. He demanded a detailed probe into the incident and action against those responsible for it.

District officials said the child's parents disposed of the dead snake after photographing it and sent the image to the local anganwadi sevika (worker). But despite this, the food sample from the packet has been collected and sent to a laboratory for testing, they said.

"Children in the age group of six months to three years receive packets of mid-day meal, a premix of dal khichadi, at anganwadis. These packets are distributed to families once they arrive at the anganwadi. On Monday, meal packets were distributed by anganwadi workers in Palus. The parents of one child claimed that a tiny dead snake was found in the packet they received," Bhosale said on Wednesday.

The parents took a photo of the snake and sent it to the anganwadi sevika, she said.

"But by the time the sevika forwarded the photo to our district sevika group, the parents had already disposed of the suspected dead snake," she said.

Bhosale added that the issue was raised during a meeting held on July 2, and Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Sangli Zilla Parishad, Sandip Yadav, who heads the Women and Child Welfare and Anganwadi section, was informed.

She said the godown where the meal packets are stored was reportedly sealed following the incident.

Bhosale also claimed that there have been complaints about the contractor responsible for supplying the premixed meal packets.

When contacted, Yadav told PTI that during the investigation, officials learned that the parents had discarded the alleged dead object found in the packet.

"The packets are directly distributed by the contractor to the anganwadis and from there, they are given to the beneficiaries within two to three days...In this case, neither the anganwadi sevika nor any other district administration official saw the object; only the parents claimed to have seen it," he said.

"So, based on the photo they clicked and the food samples from the packet, the investigation will proceed," he added.

The Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has collected samples of the food items from the packet for laboratory testing, Yadav confirmed.

MLA Kadam said on X, "A dead baby snake was found in the mid-day meal provided to pregnant women and children in the age group of six months to three years. This is a serious issue. The government should understand that the lives of pregnant women and children are at risk. Harsh punishment should be taken against the guilty."

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