Three days after they consumed a chicken curry contaminated with the remains of a dead lizard, the residents of the Sant Eknath Government Boys Hostel in Chembur are still waiting for a change in their mess contractor. While hostel authorities say a new one will be brought in from today, the hostellers aren't buying the claim, as they haven't been told anything about a replacement.
mid-day had reported on February 13 how hosteller Rahul Jambhulkar spotted the lizard in the special chicken curry served on Sunday, saving the other kids from savouring the contaminated preparation. Back then, the authorities had promised to replace the contractor within two days and have an alternative arrangement till the new one arrives, but little has changed since.
The residents are complaining that they do not have any other option due to their poor financial condition. However, they have begun approaching higher authorities in the social welfare department, after reporting officers failed to stand by their promise.
On Sunday, when hungry students started protesting, authorities from social welfare department, which runs the hostel, arrived for inquiry. Students were then informed that the food contractor has been blacklisted and a new contractor will be finalised in two days. They were also told that alternative arrangement would be done till a new contractor is finalised. But even after three days, the same mess contractor was serving the students.
"They made huge promises but the situation continues to remain the same. What are we supposed to do? We do not have an option, as we can't afford to eat out everyday. We understand that authorities may take a couple of days to finalise the new contractor but yet there is no news of a replacement. Are they waiting for a student to fall ill before they finally make the change?" asked Jambhulkar.
Shivraj Kale, another student, said, "They keep saying that they are changing the contractor. But we are not given any information regarding it. Instead, they keep convincing students that there is no reason to worry and that extra precaution is being taken. Getting a new contractor in same price is an issue."
Aditya Shravasti, who is also a member of the Prahar students' organisation said, "We do not understand what more the authorities are waiting for. Such problems are a regular phenomenon in government hostels. Yet social welfare department continues with the contracts of such service providers."
Avinash Deostar, assistant commissioner from the social welfare department, who conducted inquiry in the case, said, "We have finalised a new contractor and he will start from Thursday. We are equally concerned about the students' health."