Among the groundwater stressed firkas in the district, Saravanampatti has emerged as a cause of concern in particular. In addition to being categorised as critical, the groundwater in Saravanampatti has fluoride content. Saravanampatti has now joined the 30 odd blocks in Salem, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri where groundwater had fluoride for decades.
Saravanampatti, which used to be a quaint suburb till a decade ago, has grown by leaps and bounds into a key software hub in Coimbatore. As a result, there was a huge population explosion in the locality resulting in overexploitation of groundwater.
“There could be various factors for fluoride content in groundwater. But in this region it’s primarily due to the nature of subsurface rocks,” said S Panneerselvam, director of the water resources department of TNAU. However, area specific studies would help understand better the reasons for the presence of fluoride and find a solution.
High level of exposure to fluoride would result in dental fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis, which will lead to weakening of bones and joints. Multiple studies have found that fluorosis was widespread in Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts.
Water managers however said the situation may not be that alarming in Saravanampatti. While insisting that a proper study should be conducted to identify the exact reason for fluoride presence, experts say that if the groundwater exploitation was reduced and there was adequate recharge of groundwater, fluoride content would go down.
T Suresh of Kovai Kulangal Pathukappu Amaippu said that even in Annur, one of the over exploited firkas, groundwater was contaminated. “The TDS levels are very high,” he said. Suresh and his team had recently desilted the inlet channel of Kattampatti Lake in Annur, which has helped improve its water position marginally.