Fluoride Action Network

Fluoride contamination hits model village Balitara

Source: The Assam Tribune | August 21st, 2016 | By Ramen Kalita
Location: India

NALBARI – Contamination of ground water by poisonous fluoride in alarming proportions is posing a serious threat to the people of Balitara Gaon Panchayat, which was declared a model village under Sansad’s Adarsha Gram Yojana in 2015. More than 90 per cent tubewells of seven villages under the gaon panchayat are contaminated with excessive amount of fluorides forcing the PHE Department to seal most of them, marking them red. Even the department is unable to seal all the tubewells as it has failed to provide alternative arrangements for drinking water to the villagers, high-level official sources said.

Sources said that a team of the State Referral Laboratory of Guwahati tested the drinking water of about 700 hand tube wells and 90 per cent of them were found to be contaminated with excessive fluorides. The PHE department first noticed fluoride contamination in drinking water sources at the village in 2015 after it was declared as a model village. Since then the department is continuing its studies and water testing. Official sources said that cases of ground water contamination by fluoride has been detected in seven villages under the Balitara panchayat. The villages are Balitara-1, Balitara-2, Balitara-3, Balitara-4, Hahdali, Naherbari and Nagaon. According to reports available from the laboratory of the PHE Department, most of the tubewells have crossed the hundred per cent of permissible levels of fluorides. The assistant engineer of Nalbari PHE, Tirtha Nath Sarma said that the permissible level of fluoride in drinking water is 1.0 to 1.50. However, the amount of fluoride in the village has been detected up to 2.22, which is more dangerous to health. In the tubewell of Sanu Talukdar of Napara supa the contamination of fluoride was detected at 2.22. Similarly the tubewell of Nilima Boro of Balitara showed a fluoride level of 2.22, that of Pramod Ch Barman of Napara supa showed a figure of 2.20, the tubewell of Dhiren Talukdar of Ojapara supa showed a figure of 2.20.

The local people of the model village alleged that they are suffering from various diseases of teeth and bones due to fluoride contamination. Cancer cases are also on the rise in the village. Though Assistant Engineer Sarma ruled out that cancer has no relation to fluoride contamination, a high-level study is necessary to build up confidence among the villagers. Sarma further said that there are three drinking water supply plants in the village and the water of those plants are not contaminated with excessive fluorides. “We have submitted a plan for extension of these plants to more areas besides installation of some new hand tubewells at different depths to provide alternative sources of drinking water,” he added. However, those schemes are yet to be approved.

The poor state of the MP’s model village has disgusted the people of the locality. During this crisis, MP of Mangaldoi constituency Ramen Deka is yet to visit the village. The MP allegedly completed his duty after declaring the village as a model village. Even the Nalbari district administration has not taken the issue seriously, people alleged.