GUWAHATI – In a significant development, the civil society of Hojai areas has united itself to fight the health hazard created by fluoride contamination of drinking water in Tapatjuri area under Binakandi Development Block of Hojai subdivision in Nagaon district. Tapatjuri has now earned notoriety for its over 1,000 people, about 400 of whom are children, being affected by skeletal Fluorosis resulting from the fluoride contamination of their drinking water.
The people of Hojai areas and the Government officials of Nagaon District, Hojai Subdivision, Binakandi Development Block, among others, met at a meeting on December 24 under the presidentship of Najibuddin Ahmed, Additional Chief Engineer of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department at the Akashiganga office of the Fluoride Mitigation Support Centre (FMSC), an NGO engaged in fighting the menace of Fluorosis together with the Kampur-based Environment Conservation Centre and the Rajasthan-based India Natural Resource Economics and Management (INREM) Foundation.
The meeting decided to take up the issue of constant flow of funds to the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Fluorosis (NPPCF) vigorously, so that distribution of medicines and other supportive activities to mitigate Fluorosis could be continued in Tapatjuri areas.
The Social Forestry Department also assured plantation programmes to grow Amla trees, Drumstick trees, Tamarind trees, among others, abundantly. The fruits of these trees have the properties to mitigate Fluorosis.
The Block Elementary Education Officer (BEEO) of Binakandi told the gathering at the meeting that his office would see to it that the mid-day meal supplied to school children of the fluoride endemic areas contain calcium-rich food so as to strengthen the immune system of these children.
Moreover, the BEEO also assumed the responsibility to plant saplings of Amla and Drumstick trees around the campuses of the schools of the Development Block. He would also take up the issue of generating awareness among the children and their guardians on fluoride contamination of drinking water at the meetings of the managing committees of the schools of the Development Block.
The Sub-divisional Officer of Hojai told the gathering at the meeting that the people disabled by Fluorosis at Tapatjuri would be provided with small scale industrial units.
The panchayat president and the village headman of Tapatjuri areas assured all support to the Fluorosis mitigation activities in their areas.