Ranchi: Tragedy has struck many a family in the Bakhari village of Jharkhand’s Daltanganj district, where excess fluoride in water has left several with severe physical deformities and even paralyzed some.
Bakhari village, situated about 20 km from the district headquarters, has a population of nearly 700, comprising mostly tribals and members of socially underprivileged groups. Two-thirds of the villagers have reportedly developed physical deformities as all the sources of drinking water in Bakhari have excess fluoride content.
Kaushalya Devi’s husband, her only son and four daughters have all fallen victim to excess fluoride. Her daughter-in-law too suffers from severe backaches.
Mangaru Ram’s wife, two sons and three daughters have also developed physical deformities. His 12-year-old son Tundnu Ram has been left completely paralyzed and his body is bent out of shape.
The only source of livelihood for the villagers is farming. But with high fluoride content in the water striking most families, the villagers are struggling to make ends meet as there are fewer hands to till the soil.
According to reports, between nine grams and 1.68 milligram of fluoride is found in one liter of drinking water. The World Health Organization (WHO) stipulates fluoride content in drinking water should not exceed 1.5 ppm.
Experts say excess fluoride in water can cause yellowing of teeth, tooth decay, pain in joints, physical deformities and can even lead to death if its content is high. They say that while fluoride is important for the body, its excess consumption can have disastrous consequences.
Bakhari residents draw water from 30 wells and six hand pumps in the village, all of which have excess fluoride. Without alternative sources of water, they are forced to continue using water from the contaminated wells and pumps. It has not yet been established as to what has led to excess of fluoride in the water.
Villagers are for now being advised to store drinking water in earthen pots baked in kilns as it absorbs some of the fluoride.