Bhubaneshwar – There are a number of villages in Orissa where high fluoride content has led to serious disability among the people. NDTV visited a village in Nuapada district bordering Chhattisgarh where fluorosis is a common disease.
Fluoride content over 0.5 milligram per litre could lead to fluorosis as is the case in Karlakot and 24 other villages in Nuapada district in Orissa where hundreds of able bodied people have been affected.
Excess of fluoride in the water, causes brittleness of the bones, malting of the teeth and generalized weakness, anaemia and calcification of the tendons and ligaments.
Fluorosis has also affected the teeth of many children and adults in the village and the weak bones and loss of stamina has cut into the people’s ability to work.
In all fluorosis affected villages residents have been asked not to drink water drawn from tubewells, but no alternative arrangements for drinking water have been made, except in Karlakot where supply of water through pipes is in place, but doesn’t work most of the time.
“We get pipe water once in three days. We don’t really have a choice and have to use the tubewell water unless of course you want us to die of thirst,” claimed Malti, a resident of Karlakot.
In Karlakot, fluorosis is not merely a health issue, but has also affected the marital prospects of the eligible young people of the village.
“No one wants to marry our daughters or give their daughters to us. Everybody is scared of the village because of the water problem,” remarked Sombari, another Karlakot resident.
The government is aware of the problem but says that huge funds are required to supply drinking water through pipes to all the affected villages.
“We are directly in touch with the Government of India. We will take steps as soon as we get the necessary funds,” said Bedprakash Agrawal, Minister for Rural Development & Food.
Like Karlakot and 24 other villages in Nuapada there are a number of villages in Nayagarh and Khurda districts where fluorosis has been rampant.
But rural health has never been a priority with the state government and it seems the affected people will have to accept fluorosis as a part of their destiny.