It is an unending wait for the residents of Rajupalem village for a permanent solution to the drinking water problem. | Photo Credit: KommuriSrinivas
One or two persons from every family suffer from fluorosis and are bedridden
Rajupalem, a nondescript village in Prakasam district, shot into limelight when the then Andhra Pradesh Governor Kumudben Joshi motored down to the fluoride-affected village near Podili in the 1980s moved by the plight of the local people.
A pipeline was immediately put thanks to her intervention and Krishna water brought from the Nagarjunasagar reservoir on a war-footing under the Netherland-aided project to provide surface water to the people of the village as a majority of them suffered from dental and skeletal fluorosis due to drinking of groundwater, which has three times more than permissible fluoride concentration of 1.5 PPM, for decades.
With dwindling inflows into the reservoirs across the Krishna in the State after the height of Almatti reservoir was increased by the upper riparian State of Karnataka, the people of the village, near Podili, are now struggling to get even a few pots of safe drinking water in view of the extended summer.
Pouring out their woes, a group of people say they fear contracting, among other diseases, skeletal fluorosis, dental fluorosis and chronic kidney disease as they are supplied with only a few pots of Krishna water once in five or six days, which cannot meet their minimum drinking water and cooking needs. “Earlier, we used to grow even paddy which requires more water. We are not in a position to grow even dry crops like red gram and minor millets in view of severe drought in the last four years,” says T.Venkateswarlu, Podili Panchayat board member from the village.
People think twice before marrying their daughters to the persons from the village as at least one or two from each household suffer from fluorosis and are confined to their beds. Similarly, brides from the village find it difficult to marry persons from other places, adds T. Kishtaiah. A newly-wed woman from Narasaraopet, Sujatha, laments, “I rue my fate for marrying a person from this village without understanding the gravity of the water problem here.”They plead for water supply at least once in two days to cope with the situation.
The civic authorities in Podili, which is flush with funds, are indifferent to the problem of the villagers. “A ?100 crore summer storage tank in 100 acres in Podili is needed for a permanent solution to the fluoride problem in the mandals of Podili, Marripudi and Konakanamitla,” feels Congress Markapur Assembly constituency in charge Sk.Saida. Meanwhile, Rural Water Supply assistant engineer K.Narayanaswamy says the department supplied 40 litres per capita per day (LPCD) till last month. In view of water shortage, the department is in a position to supply only 20 LPCD as it had to pull on for the next three to four months, after which they can expect water replenishment.