Jammu, Jan 28: Many thousand people in Doda district’s Ghat area are believed to be suffering from dental flourosis, in which the victim loses teeth by fast decay and discoloring of the enamel.

Jammu’s Regional Research Laboratory (RRL) in August 2000 had detected excess fluorine content in drinking water in Ghat. Six yearn on, the government is still groping for response to the report that had clearly ruled that the disease was waterborne. The District administration while admitting the increased fluoride content in drinking water is waiting for funds allocation to ‘dig up a tube well’.

A small township, Ghat falls barely seven kilometers from the district headquarters of Doda. As per the report continuous consumption of contaminated water has resulted in Skeletal Fluorosis in nearly 50 per cent of the Ghat population. The ailment has visible symptoms like joint pains and weakening of bones.

The RRL report has not been able to wake up the Water Works department and according to the experts the disease is turning into an epidemic. Latest reports from Doda suggest the dental flourosis is spreading to the adjacent areas such as Jodhpur, Baboor, Arnora, Bhagina, Bhatla, Aanch, Kalote and Chicoth.

Local Health authorities say that the disease in these localities has been so far limited to lower age groups only.

Tranikal Chashma, Rai Chashma and Bharat Nallah are the main drinking water resources for Ghath and its adjoining areas. The RRI report had noted that the water from these resources contain excess amounts of fluorine. As per the national standards fluoride in drinking water should not exceed 1 parts per million (PPM). With 1 PPM being the maximum permissible limit Ghat is being supplied with the water that has fluoride content of over 1.2 PPM.

What aggravates the problem for the people in these areas is the fact that there is no fluoride treatment plant where the fluoride content could be reduced. In Doda town, where the drinking water is drawn from “Koti Nullah” and “Desa Nullah”, water has fluoride content which is higher than the permissible level and stands at 1.04 PPM, hence the spread of disease to other areas.

Health experts in Doda inform that although all the three types of flourosis –dental, skeletal, and non-skeletal are prevalent in Ghat, but more cases of dental flourosis have been reported from Ghat.

Dental expert, Dr.Liyakat Ali Khan of District Hospital Doda who examines 30-40 patients suffering from flourosis every week told Greater Kashmir over phone that drinking water having high fluoride content could only be reduced if a special treatment plant was in place where the dangerous content could be brought down to the permissible limits.

District Development Commissioner Doda, Dr.Pawan Kotwal admitted that the fluoride content of drinking water in Ghath and adjoining areas is slightly higher than the prescribed level. However, he said the problem was not acute. He informed that district administration had approached Central Ground Water Board, Faridabad for identifying the site for digging up tube well and they have identified the site. “We are facing shortage of funds for digging up the tube well. As soon as we arrange the funds, the digging up of the tube well will start,” he said.