HUBLI: The smile on the faces of young children, which hitherto remained elusive in many parts of Gadag district due to dental fluorosis, is all set to return now.
Sri Kshetra Dharmastala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) and Chicago-based H20 for Humanity are in the process of setting up defluoridation units in as many as 48 villages where the fluoride content is high.
SKDRDP executive director Dr L H Manjunath told `The Times of India’ that 60 water samples collected from various parts of the district were not fit for drinking. They contained high levels of harmful bacteria, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) ranging from 2,500 to 4,000 and fluoride ranging from 2.5 ppm (part per million) to 6 ppm. After purification, bacteria and TDS will be brought to zero, while fluoride will be limited to 1 ppm.
The impure water had caused oral cavity, debilitating damage to bones, joints and brains. Kidney stone and intestinal ailments like dysentery were common among the people, especially women and children. People were also looking more than their age while some were unable to work in fields.
SKDRDP manager Raghav M said three defluoridation units in Kurtukoti, Kotumachagi and Hirevaddatti were made operational a week ago. Two more units in Neeralagi and Kanaginahala will shortly become functional. Shuddaganga drinking water project will be implemented in 16 more villages in six months.
A survey has been completed in 48 villages of Gadag, Shirahatti and Ron taluks where the fluorosis content is high. Deflouride plants will be set up in all the villages in phases.
While the Dharmasthala institute will construct building to house the units, H20 will provide and maintain machinery. Providing space for setting up the units, and giving water and electricity connections will be the responsibility of respective gram panchayats. Each unit will cost Rs 9 lakh.
PAY FOR WATER
Purified water to these villages comes at a cost, albeit nominal. The villagers who want clean water should first register themselves by paying Rs 25. They have to pay Rs 60 per month, for which they will get a can of 20 litres of water everyday. The beneficiaries have to collect water themselves. Raghav said the fee will take care of electricity bill and the maintenance cost. So far, not less than 500 households in three villages each have registered for the water.
He said the machineries have a capacity to defluoride 2,000 litres of water in an hour. About 40% of the total water used in the process goes waste, but could be used for cleaning purposes.