They hope at least the next party to form government would do something to mitigate their plight

They are neither physically challenged nor elderly persons, but the trek to polling stations is painful for them because of the water they have been drinking for decades.

“Successive governments had failed to provide safe drinking water to us due to which we have been suffering from fluorosis, but expecting better rule from the next government we decided to walk all the way to the polling station,” K. Lingaiah, a 35-year-old fluoride victim of Kottala village, told The Hindu. He said that fluoride victims undergo an inexplicable pain every time they move, their bones having turned brittle after drinking water with high fluoride content over the years.

The polling station for Kottala village is located at Indurthi, 2.5 km distance away, and the fluoride victims are seen trudging all the way to cast their vote. Though some political parties are operating vehicles between Kottala and the polling station, they carry only the voters who are favouring them.

Thirty-five-year-old Rajaiah, along with other fluoride victims Burra Sallamma, Burra Ayyamma and K. Ramachandar prefer to walk to the polling station. It is not only the case of Kottala village, a huge number of villages in Nalgonda district, particularly in Marriguda, Munugodu, Chanduru, Nampally, Chinthapalli and from others mandals are fluoride affected. But, people are still coming to the polling stations, though it is painful to walk, to cast their vote hoping that at least the next government could change their children’s fate by providing safe drinking and irrigation water to all the fluoride-affected areas.

Speaking to The Hindu, Fluoride Vimukti Porata Samiti founder Kanchukatla Subhash said out of 3,477 habitations in Nalgonda district, a major part are still deprived of safe drinking water.

Quoting scientists, he said that supply of potable water for drinking and irrigation needs by completing all the pending irrigation projects in Nalgonda district can only bring the situation under control as the crops cultivated by pumping the ground water having high fluoride content also pollutes the crops.

Subhash, who hails from Marrigudem mandal, said that he had seen fluoride victims coming to polling stations with much enthusiasm to see a change in governance by voting, but their dreams remain unfulfilled because all the successive governments failed to address the issue.

He hoped that the first government in Telangana would draw a comprehensive plan to end the woes of people.