RANCHI: A Hindustan Times report exposing the administration’s indifference towards the fluorosis-hit Dalit village of Pratappur in Jharkhand’s Garhwa, has forced the state government to provide relief and rehabilitation to the victims.
On Saturday, a day after the Jharkhand high court took cognizance of the report, Garhwa principal district and session judge PK Srivastava rushed to the Dalit-dominated village to take “first-hand” information of the situation.
A team of medical specialist comprising of a general physician, dentist, orthopedic and a pediatric also visited the village and within 48 hours, officials from the state drinking water and sanitation department arrived with nine new sets of fluoride removal filters that they fitted to tube-wells in the area.
Villagers have been demanding the filters since 2007 when fluorosis was first detected in the area after it claimed a couple of lives.
“I have come here on the directive of the high court and once my survey is completed I will submit the findings to the high court bench,” Srivastava told villagers.
Accompanied by the Garhwa district and session judge Biresh Kumar, state water and sanitation department executive engineer Radhe Shyam Ravi and district officials, Srivastava visited a number of homes and interacted with victims.
Villagers are happy that the government has at least reacted to media reports and is trying to bring relief to them. “We are grateful to HT for taking up our cause twice in the last five years,” said Mohan Ram, a community leader and Ramapati Devi’s brother-in-law.
He further said that the last time HT highlighted villagers plight was in 2011, when the then union rural development minister Jairam Ramesh sent experts from Delhi and instructed the state government to take necessary measures.
“Unfortunately, nothing was done at the ground level and the administration merely counted bodies,” he said.
The district administration will submit its findings to the high court on June 22, the next date of hearing on the issue.