Mumbai: 130 students served curry with lizard at Chembur hostel

'Special' non-veg lunch at Chembur mess lands government hostel in a soup; students allege it was a piece of glass in noodles the last time

The lizard was found in the chicken gravy served at Sant Eknath Boys’ Government Hostel in Chembur
The lizard was found in the chicken gravy served at Sant Eknath Boys’ Government Hostel in Chembur

Rahul Jambhulkar’s eagle eye averted a major disaster at a government-run boys’ hostel in Chembur last afternoon. The first-year mechanical engineering student, residing at Sant Eknath Boys’ Government Hostel, spotted a lizard in his lunch after taking a few morsels of it. He immediately raised an alarm and stopped others from consuming the meal.

The lizard in the chicken gravy
The lizard in the chicken gravy

The hostel, run by the social welfare department of the state government, houses around 130 reserved category students from rural Maharashtra.

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“On Sundays, we are served non-vegetarian lunch. It was chicken gravy this time. I reached the mess right when lunch was being served because I wanted to get back to studying for my exams quickly. I picked up a plate, sat at a table and took a few morsels of the food. That’s when I spotted a lizard in the chicken gravy,” said Jambhulkar, a student of Bharati Vidyapeeth.

Sant Eknath Boys’ Government Hostel in Chembur
Sant Eknath Boys’ Government Hostel in Chembur

As soon as the alarm was raised, mess workers and students ran around stopping other inmates from partaking of the meal. “Some students had taken their food to their rooms,” said Jambhulkar.

Not the first time
Many students alleged that this wasn’t the time that the mess’ poor hygiene stood exposed. “We’ve raised repeated complaints, but there has been no action. There are a few blind students in this hostel. What if the lizard had been on their plate?” asked hosteller Rahul Kamble, an MPhil Sociology student of University of Mumbai.

He claimed that a few weeks ago, a shard of glass was found in a meal of noodles. “Finding pieces of plastic in chapatis is a regular phenomenon.”

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Manoj Tekade, vice-president of Prahar Students’ Organisation, was alerted to the near disaster. “We found out that while one Suresh Salvi has been given the contract for running the mess, students claim one Ashok Thube was running the show. This shows the negligence of social welfare department authorities.”

Alleging that the department is hand in glove with errant mess contractors, he recalled a case of food poisoning caused by a dead lizard four years ago at a boys’ hostel run by the social welfare department in Worli. “The contractor, Ashok Pimpalkar, was blacklisted then, but he has taken charge of the Worli hostel mess again.”

Not at fault: Contractor
Salvi claimed innocence and alleged that the lizard had been added to the meal by some vengeful students.

“Some boys take big vessels from the kitchen to eat in their rooms, ask us for money to celebrate their birthdays and talk rudely with my staff. I had complained about them a few weeks for misbehaving with my staff.”

A new contractor for the mess soon
Avinash Deostar, assistant commissioner of social welfare department, said, “We have initiated an inquiry. For now, we are ordering food from outside. This will continue for 2 days during which we will invite tenders for a new contractor.”

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