Barothu Gandhi, 38, one among dozens of patients diagnosed with kidney ailments reportedly due to consumption of fluoride water in Lambada tribal habitations in Krishna district, had already sold his two-acre of land to meet his monthly medical expenses since 2011.
Bed-ridden for most of the day at his house in a sleepy tribal hamlet of Mansing Thanda in A. Konduru mandal, Mr. Gandhi was still forced to consume the drinking water, which contains fluoride levels of 2.4 mg/l as against the permissible 0.6 mg/l. “I have stopped visiting the doctor and stopped taking medication for the past six months as I can no more afford expenditure for treatment,” Mr. Gandhi told The Hindu.
New cases of kidney ailments and diseases with symptoms such as weakening of bones, swelling of legs and twisting of hands are on the rise in Peda Thanda, Kesya-Gamya Thanda, Mansing Thanda, Deepla Nagar, Chaitya Thanda in A. Konduru mandal. The ailment among the kidney patients was proved as ‘B/L contracted kidneys with ‘grade III renal Parenchymal disease’. A total of 26 habitations with a majority of Lambada tribal villages in A. Konduru mandal have been notified as ‘fluoride affected’, says a report by the Rural Water Supply Department.
However, groundwater being drawn from hand pump sets was the only source of drinking water for the people in majority of the ‘fluoride affected’ villages till date. “Consumption of fluoride water is found one of the major reasons for failure of kidneys and incidence of bone ailments among the Lambada tribals”, Arun Kidney Centre (AKC), Vijayawada, Nephrologist N. Ammanna told The Hindu.
Almost 90 per cent of kidney patients from Lambada habitations turn to the AKC to confirm their disease status. Many women spoke to The Hindu in Krishnaraopalem panchayat complained bone pains, suspecting unsafe drinking water. “Promising purified water at least can minimise the health hazards due to fluoride water consumption in our thandas under A. Konduru and Mylavaram mandals,” opined AP Lambada Rights’ Protection Association In-Charge (Coastal Andhra) Bhojya Naik.