JAGDALPUR: The problem of high concentration of fluoride in ground water, which is causing innumerable problems and sufferings to hundreds of people in Bastar, extends much beyond the boundaries of this erstwhile princely state and virtually plagues 15 of the 27 districts in Chhattisgarh. Fluoride contamination runs as high as over 10Mg/L, against the permissible limit of 1.5 Mg/L in certain areas of the state, posing extreme health hazards to the people.
While Bastar has 90 habitats grappling with this problem, the districts of Sarguja has 81, Balrampur 65, Kanker 57, Surajpur 46, Korba 43, Kondagaon 40, Balod 31, Dhamtari 29, Koria 10, Gariyaband 8, Durg 7, Raigarh 7, Bijapur 6 and Bemetra 1. These are among the adversely affected with high concentration of fluoride in ground water. Certain deep tube wells in Korba (Karmandi) and Kanker (Charbhata) districts have been detected with fluoride concentration of over 10 Mg/L.
Talking to TOI, secretary Public Health Engineering, RS Vishwakarma, admitted that the issue was serious and all efforts were being made to control it. “We are doing our best by either sealing the affected hand pumps or installing filtration plants,” he said adding that efforts were on to supply treated tap water to the villages where the problem is acute. He said that it is a mammoth task as there are almost 2.24 lakh hand pumps in the state and only 10% to 20% are being checked every year. He said since fluoride concentration can go up anytime, there was no guarantee that hand pumps found safe now are not contaminated in the later months.
Vishwakarma said that though the public health department was constantly maintaining a vigil on the situation, it was humanly not possible to check and recheck every hand pump.