A file photo of a fluorosis survivor.A file photo of a fluorosis survivor.   | Photo Credit: Singam Venkataramana

15,000 affected by fluoride in Nalgonda

While poll manifestos are a vision document for political parties, they are also instruments of hope for people before polls — like the survivors of fluorosis in Nalgonda.

Appealing to all political parties to think of them, seeking space in their document and hoping for solutions, the afflicted say they, and the issue require attention. Activists and scientists concur stressing, “immediate attention”. Here’s why.

Of the 25,435 people receiving ?1,500 monthly Aasara pensions for locomotor disabilities in the district, officials believe about 60% (around 15,000) of them are fluoride-affected. In reality, only a fraction of them get favoured, with welfare from the government and private, when their stories appear in newspapers and social media.

“We are happy that Swamy got a hairdressing salon after KTR’s directions, NRIs purchased Suvarna’ s paintings. Similarly Tirupathamma, Manisha, Rajitha and others were helped by collectors, media and celebrities.” But their education, livelihood, enhanced pensions, access to needs, including safe drinking water, should all be driven by a policy, opines K. Subhash of Fluorosis Vimukthi Porata Samithi.

A survivor of skeletal fluorosis, Manisha, who recently completed her B.Com recalls the promise of the setting up of the Regional Fluoride and Fluorosis Mitigation Centre RFMC (RFFMC) in Nalgonda.

“No one said anything about it in the last five years,” she wonders. The RFFMC was first proposed in 2007, and the 8.5 acre land allotted for it in Choutuppal remains vacant.

Skeletal fluorosis

For scientists at the National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, fluorosis and its prevalence in Nalgonda should be checked urgently. Their 2016 study rings alarm bells: Around 30% of water sources in Nalgonda have excess fluoride, about three lakh people have dental and skeletal fluorosis, and some 10 lakh people are being impacted.

The assessment also reiterates the preventive antidote for fluorosis — safe drinking water — not reverse osmosis treated water, which 66% of its surveyed households were consuming.

For now, survivors and activists are pinning their hopes on two safe drinking water sources in Nalgonda. One, Krishna Drinking Water Supply Project, which is irregular, and Mission Bhagiratha, which is still under way.

*Original article online at https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/fluorosis-hit-pin-hopes-on-polls/article25241852.ece