Published: 31st December 2020
IIT Madras says that worms, insects in food served to students traced to vegetable cooked that day
IIT Madras has also stated that there is nothing much that could be done about lifting quarantine as it has to be decided by the Greater Chennai Corporation
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras has confirmed the presence of "foreign matter or worms" in the food that was served to the students staying on campus and went on to explain that they were able to trace those to the vegetable cooked on that particular day. Students complained of finding traces of a caterpillar, cockroaches, and hair in the mess food served to them on Wednesday and also earlier as they have been quarantined inside the IITM campus since December 14.
"The Institute is serving nearly 3000 packed meals every day. Despite the best efforts of the staff, there have been a few instances where foreign matter or worms have been found in the packages. We are immediately replacing the contaminated packages and also investigating the source of the foreign matter or worm. In a couple of cases, we were able to trace it to the vegetable prepared that day. We have been continuously fine-tuning the inspection and packing processes," the institute spokesperson told Edex.
Students had alleged earlier that the food being served at the hostels is not of adequate quality. Even after numerous complaints, the caterers were not being replaced or penalised for the issue, the students had said. Students at all the hostels at IIT Madras had also protested on Wednesday night after they were served worm-infested food once again. The issue was later resolved after the chairman of the hostel committee Dr Shaligram Tiwari and the Vice-Chairman Dr Thiagarajan came to meet the students and assured that the accused caterer will be blacklisted and better food will be served from the next day.
IIT Madras had been completely shut down on December 14 after a sudden spurt in COVID-19 cases, affecting over 190 people inside the campus in a matter of weeks. Students who were present on campus have been quarantined since then, some for over 15 days, while some have even been locked inside for more than 30 days. Students had also raised the issue of when the quarantine will be lifted and sent several emails to the authorities for a response.
Responding to this, the institute spokesperson said that "there is nothing much that could be done about it as the quarantine of the hostel zone is decided by the Greater Chennai Corporation based on their protocols and need to arrest the outbreak."
"The duration of quarantine of the hostel zone post the outbreak is decided by GCC based on the number of positive cases emerging in the hostels. Some of the students had returned to campus before the outbreak happened, and had spent 14 days in individual quarantine prior to their going to the labs. However, the outbreak happened just as their individual quarantine was ending, and the quarantine of the entire hostel zone happened thereafter due to the outbreak. This led to the total number of days for these students becoming close to 30 days," the spokesperson added.