A nun working with tribal people in a central Indian diocese has scored a victory in her campaign to make her local district administration clean up fluorine-contaminated water supplies that she discovered was causing bone deformities in villagers.
When Sister Leena of the Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Marc nun visited Piplikheda, a village under Khandwa diocese in Madhya Pradesh she found several people with bone deformities that had twisted their limbs out of shape, causing terrible pain.
“At first I thought that they were born like that, but I found they developed these deformities only a few years ago,” she told ucanews.com.
The nun took two patients to an orthopedic surgeon, who diagnosed the deformities were due to high fluorine content in their drinking water.
The nun also found that the villagers who drank water from some hand pumps the Khandwa district administration had installed six years ago were more prone to such deformities.
“When I approached the health department for testing the water from the pumps, they asked me to get it done by myself,” Sister Leena said.
Undeterred she turned to the media, which put pressure on the authorities to act. Engineers tested the water from the pumps finding dangerous fluorine levels. They were subsequently sealed.
But for the victims that is too late. Dr Vijay Sharma, who works in a government hospital, said there is no cure and will worsen should they keep drinking water from the pumps.
Over a dozen villagers now suffer from bone deformities and painful muscular spasms.
“I was born all right. But for the last four years I am suffering from pain in my joints,” said Mohan Kanse who has stopped going to school as pain prevents him from sitting down for a long time.
Matribai, a farmer suffering from muscular spasm, said Sister Leena had “saved other people from becoming like us.”
Fluorine is an essential for bone growth [sic] but frequent overconsumption affects teeth, bones, nerves and muscles.