High percentage of fluoride in water has wrought havoc in a cluster of villages in Unnao district, says a report prepared by the Jal Nigam. The report quotes WHO specifications which place the permissible limit at only 1 mg per litre.
In these villages, however, the presence is as high as 7 mg at the highest level and 2.90 mg at the lowest. Steady consumption of fluoride water, says Arati Lalchandani, a city based doctor, affects both nerves and the bones and gradually makes movement and bending of limbs extremely difficult.
In fact the situation is so bad in Siraha Khera, a village 70 kilometres from here, that angry villagers initially refused to speak to this correspondent. Said Ram Pyare, ” people do not want to give their daughters in marriage nor do they accept our daughters as bride”. Sixty year old Babadeen, barely able to stand on his badly twisted limbs, grimaced and said that he was forced to drink the water because there was no alternative. Fifteen year old Jagdish, his body badly disfigured, tersely said he did not need anyone’s sympathy while fifty year old Chandrakali lamented that though a steady stream of officials and experts continue to visit the village, nobody had come up with a solution as yet.
All attempts to defluoride the water have met with very little success. The National Water Mission had launched a scheme a decade ago and a defluoridation plant was also set up at village Mirrakala. But the plant has been lying idle for the last ten months ever since power cables were stolen. The process of defluoridation consists of using bleaching powder and chemical treatment and experts said that individuals could not possibly carry it out.
The fluoride content is affecting animals and also destroying crops. According to Dr Ashok Agarwal of the Soil Science department of Chandrashekhar Azad University, consumption of fluoride over long spells could lead to permanent disabilities as well. Dr Agarwal, who has recently conducted a study, claimed to have apprised state government agencies of the alarming development.