GUWAHATI, Dec 12 — The Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has registered a case (No. 4306/2002) on the basis of a newspaper report regarding fluoride contamination of water at Kaliabor in Nagaon district, and issued notices to the Secretary and the Chief Engineer of the State Public Health Engineering Department (PHE), directing them to conduct an inquiry and submit its report by January 21, 2003.
It may be mentioned that after the first detection of fluoride contamination in Karbi Anglong district in 1999 had sent shockwaves across the State, the AHRC registered a case (No. 3568/2001). However, the matter was closed by an AHRC order dated February 27, 2002, after obtaining a report from the PHE Chief Engineer. It was stated in the report that the presence of fluoride was not found in any other district except Karbi Anglong.
But as matters stand now, fluoride contamination has been detected at places in Nagaon and Kamrup districts also. In Kamrup district, the latest fluoride detection was made in last September at Silakoroibari near Changsari. Earlier, it was detected at Mathgharia, Guwahati in December 2001.
The PHE Chief Engineer, PK Chakrabarty, however, termed the situation as far from alarming and said the PHE has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the situation. The PHE has been conducting a survey of all sources of water and steps are being taken to arrange alternative sources of safe water to the affected areas, he added. Dental surveys at schools, have also been carried out because the immediate effects of fluoride contaminated water can be detected through their teeth.
Stressing that creating awareness at the grassroots was a must to effectively check the fluoride menace, Chakravarty said the PHE has embarked on a drive to educate the people about the need to use water filter which is a simple way to prevent fluoride contamination. “We are also in touch with the All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health to get their expertise on scientific treatment of fluoride-contaminated water,” he added.