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Mumbai: Lizard found in lunch at govt hostel for backward classes

On being shown the lizard, contractor said it was prank by inmates: Students

Written by Dipti Singh | Mumbai |
February 13, 2017 1:27:13 am
The lizard found in the lunch of a student at Sant Eknath government boys’ hostel, Chembur. The lizard found in the lunch of a student at Sant Eknath government boys’ hostel, Chembur.

Residents of a government hostel in Chembur were in for a rude shock Sunday when they found a dead lizard in the food served to them for lunch. The students have registered a police complaint against the mess contractor. The Sant Eknath government boys’ hostel is run and maintained by the department of social welfare and justice for meritorious students belonging to backward classes. On Sunday around 12.30 pm, one of the students, Rahul Jambhulkar, picked up his lunch from the hostel mess. Jambhulkar was about to have the first morsel when he saw a dead lizard floating in the curry he had been served. He brought this to the notice of other students and the mess contractor, who refused to accept the complaint, alleged Jambhulkar.

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“I called the mess on-duty staff and contractor, but despite seeing the cooked lizard, they refused to acknowledge the issue. When I called other students and started clicking pictures, the mess contractor blamed us and alleged that it was a prank played by us,” Jambhulkar said. Agitated students then met Rajkumar Badole, minister of social welfare and justice, and refused to eat at the hostel mess.

Aditya Shravasti, another hostel inmate and member of Prahar Vidyarthi Sanghatana, said, “We have evidence that the lizard found in the curry was cooked. How can the mess contractor still call it a prank by a student? We have taken up the issue and students of the hostel have demanded that the contract of S Bahudeshiya Sahkari be cancelled. Until then, students have refused to eat at the hostel mess.”

When contacted, mess contractor Suresh Salvi refused to answer questions, stating the matter was a minor one and blown out of proportion by the students. Hostel warden Nitin Sukalikar remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts.

This is not the first time inmates of hostels run by the social welfare and justice department have complained of unhygienic food. In 2012, a dead crow was found in a water tank of a hostel in Worli. The matter came to light after worms were found in the water students used for drinking.

“Such an incident is not a first at hostels run by the social welfare and justice department. For the past few years, students have been complaining of worms in their food. However, authorities have dismissed the issue and blamed the students. Even now, they were not taking the issue seriously until the department intervened,” said advocate Manoj Tekade, a former inmate of the Worli hostel and activist of Prahar Vidyarthi Sanghatana.

Shravasti alleged that the department had been awarding contracts to only three contractors — Ashok Pimpalkar, Ashok Thube and Suresh Salvi — in all its hostels. “Despite complaints of unhygeinic food, the department keeps rotating the contracts among these three contractors,” said Shravasti.

Meanwhile, the social welfare and justice department has temporarily closed down the mess and has assured students of changing the contractor immediately.

“This being a Sunday, we can’t call for other mess contractors at such a short notice. However, since the matter is serious, we have closed the mess temporarily and ordered dinner for the students from outside. An inquiry into the matter has been initiated. We will get a new mess contractor at the earliest and the process for this will be initiated from Monday,” said Avinash Deosatwar, Assistant Commissioner, social welfare and justice department, Mumbai.

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