Bahariya (Allahabad) Just 30 kms from Allahabad, in the village of Gaudiyan, residents are facing a very piquant problem. Of the 200-odd villagers, around 135 have bone deformities, making them physically handicap.

A majority of residents belongs to Fakir community who don’t own agriculture land and earn their livelihood by playing bands during wedding ceremonies. They belong to BPL category and only a handful of the 30-odd families have been issued NREGS job card and health cards.

“At the time of birth, the children are normal but after some years they develop bone defects, particularly in hands and legs,” said 35-year-old Mohd Nazim, who is also suffering from such deformities.

The reason behind this unique phenomenon, however, is debatable.

A private doctor, who also conducts social work in the area, termed it as a case of skeletal fluorosis. “Due to the excess fluoride content in drinking water, the calcium intake is not absorbed in the body, causing disabilities and deformities,” said Dr Amit Shukla, a neurophysician.

A team of government doctors, who visited the village on Tuesday, gave an altogether a different reason.

According to the medical team, the physical deformities have been caused by “acute malnutrition, poverty and absence of basic amenities like proper drinking water, medical facility and sanitation.”

“These do not appear to be caused by excess of fluoride in water,” said Dr Rajendra Kumar, Epidemic Control Officer (Allahabad district) who headed the four-member team of the doctors that visited the village.

On asked whether the team had conducted any test of the water of the village, Kuvmar said it was “not necessary”. “The problem is deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, iron and hyperthyroidsim, caused by acute malnutrition,” he added.

The only source of water in the village is a handpump, which too has been out of order for the last two months. The residents of the village, now, go to a nearby village to collect water.

“Out of the 30 families, only five have BPL cards and health cards. We don’t have lands to till. We don’t have job cards to get work under NREGA. In any case, most can’t work because of the physical disability,” said Mohd Jameel.

Sijara, a 35-year-old woman who is also afflicted, said the problem started around 30 years ago and gradually gripped the entire village. “Now, you hardly find a person without the deformities. People in the village die at a relatively young age,” added Sijara whose three sons also have physical deformities.