GUWAHATI: Thousands of villagers have been affected, many of them crippled for life, by drinking water containing excessive levels of fluoride, in some parts of Assam’s Karbi Anglong district, a report said.
The worst-affected area was in the Tekelanguin where every fourth person has been affected by the hydro-fluorosia affecting a population of nearly one lakh, said additional chief engineer of the public health department A B Paul.
Besides Karbi Anglong, some portions of Nagaon area were also affected, he added.
Paul said the slow poisoning caused by contaminated groundwater was spreading in remote parts of the state. Many people have been suffering from severe anaemia, stiff joints, painful and restricted movement, mottle teeth and kidney failure leading to premature death while many have been crippled for life.
Fluorosis is a non-curable disease and fluoride a deadly chemical. So far, scientists claimed that the north-eastern region was safe from fluoride.
“It was detected for the first time in the middle of last year in Tekelangiun area in Karbi Anglong district, where several cases of both dental and skeletal fluorosis were initially found. More than 600 people out of the 2,300 surveyed were found affected, some are crippled for life,” said Paul.
Fluoride content in water in the area varies from 5 to 23 mg per litre while the permissible limit is 1.2 mg per litre.
With the installation of hand tubewells, the use of ground water increased and the problem aggravated.
The district council authorities have launched a scheme for supply of fluoride-free water. Tubewells with high fluoride content have been identified and painted red with notice boards cautioning people against drinking from there. (UNI)