A central medical team led by Dr R C Srivastava, associate professor, All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health (AIIHPH), conducted anon-the-spot test of underground water at village Bhoop Nagar on Saturday and confirmed the alarming presence of fluoride content which has caused physical deformities and accelerated the ageing process of the villagers.
According to Srivastava, as per the WHO parameters, the existing permissible limit of fluoride is 1 per cent. But in case of Bhoop Nagar, it ranged between 3.5 to 4.5 per cent. He diagnosed the mystery disease crippling the villagers as Fluorosis.
Meanwhile, the affected villagers have flatly turned down the proposal to shift the 234 villagers of the 30 odd hamlets near the source of safe drinking water 3 kms away from the village.
According to the district magistrate Amrit Lal Meena, residents of Bhoop Nagar are not willing to shift to any other place as they have developed higher stakes following the construction of Indira Awas units and the recently executed irrigation scheme in the village.
Bihar power minister Shakeel Ahmed Khan who represents the area in the state assembly said that he would persuade the villagers to shift to a place near the source of safe drinking water. He also said that Indira Awas units would be provided to the villagers near the source of safe drinking water and the government would also see to it that they are also provided with agricultural land.
Srivatava, on his part has recommended the Nalagonda process of defluorisation in the village if the villagers remain adamant on not leaving the place even at the risk of physical deformity and other allied ailments. According to him, the defluorisation process was first used in the Nalagonda area of Andhra Pradesh. Under the process, water is defluorised by the mixing 40 mg of Alum, 1 mg of bleaching powder and 15 mg of lime in one litre of water. The mixture is stirred for five minutes and thereafter the fluoride content in water comes within the permissible limit.
The AIIHPH also demonstrated the process before the villagers. The expert said that pouches containing the right mix of Alum, lime and bleaching powder could be provided to the villagers on a monthly basis.
During the course of medical examination of the villagers, the experts confirmed Fluorosis in 11 men, 11 women and 4 children aged about three years. Srivastava told TNN that the affected children would be fully crippled by the age of 15. He also did not rule out more cases of invisible Fluorosis in the village.
The central team visited the village on the direction of the Union health minister Dr C P Thakur and a request for the same was repeatedly made by the power minister and local MLA Shakeel Ahmed Khan. The officials are also exploring the possibility of providing surface water to the villagers through a three km long supply line.
But in view of the small size of the population, the high cost of the execution of the surface water scheme and the recurring expenditure on the maintenance of the water supply system, it is said to be non-viable.
Shifting of the villagers was a much more pragmatic solution as compared to the other two options of Nalgonda process and surface water provision, feel the concerned officials. The socio-economic profile of the villagers and the near absolute lack of health consciousness makes the Nalgonda process redundant in Bhoop Nagar, said Khan the local MLA.