NUAPADA: Safe water is a luxury in Nuapada district. With content of fluoride high in water, finding safe drinking water has become a struggle for people here.
Despite several schemes with outlay running into crores of rupees have been lined up to mitigate water scarcity in the State, residents of Boden and Komna blocks of the district have to walk miles together in search of clean drinking water.
At least 23 persons have died due to kidney ailments in Nuapada district till now, the latest being the death of one Prafulla Bhoi (40) of Khariar on Thursday. His elder brother Premanand Bhoi had died last year due to kidney disease.
According to reports, ground water in Boden had 1.5 fluoride in per litre of water. In Palsipani and Dhamabhata villages under Komna block and Karlapat and Sukhalpur of Boden block, the fluoride content is much higher. In Dhamabhata, even tubewell water is affected with fluoride content of 5.4 mg per litre.
In the tribal dominated villages of Nuamalpada, Khandapada and Bortipada under Sinapali block, high fluoride content has turned water into slow poison. Sources said in Mondobirli village under Boden block, six persons have died and 13 more are suffering from kidney ailments.
While the permissible limit of fluoride in water is 0.5 to 1 mg per litre, as per a survey done by Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS), the groundwater in Boden has 3 mg fluoride content per litre.
The problem has compounded with the district administration’s apathetic attitude towards it.
Excess fluoride content in drinking water leads to physical deformities, the most common being skeletal fluorosis. It has been found by the National Cancer Institute’s toxicological programme that fluoride can cause cancer. Drinking such water makes bones brittle and also increases infertility in women. Besides, it causes premature aging, brown teeth, wrinkled skin, joint pain, premature hardening of the arteries and loss of appetite.
Apparently, doctors of the district refuse to admit that kidney ailments are related to fluoride consumption.
It was two years back that Minister Bikran Arukha had visited the district and declared that the State Government had sanctioned `20 crores to provide safe drinking water to 21 villages suffering from fluoride problem. Even the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik spoke about it when he visited the district in March this year. Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das had also informed about the Central Government allotting ` 250 crore to combat the problem by providing piped purified drinking water. But no visible step has yet been initiated.
Chief District Medical Officer, Dr Jagdish Mahanad, said the people are being affected due to fluoride, but there is no deaths because of it. “During examinations, we did not find any kidney ailments and hence, such deaths are treated as natural death, he added.