Safe potable water is a luxury in Nuapada district where content of fluoride in water is very high.
Despite several schemes with outlay running into crores of rupees have been lined up to mitigate water scarcity in the State, residents of Boden and Komna blocks of the district have to walk miles together in search of clean drinking water every summer.
According to reports, ground water in Boden had 1.5 fluoride in per litre of water. In Palsipani and Dhamabhata villages under Komna block and Karlapat and Sukhalpur of Boden block, the fluoride content is much higher.
In Dhamabhata, even tubewell water is affected with fluoride content of 5.4 mg per litre. In the tribal dominated villages of Nuamalpada, Khandapada and Bortipada under Sinapali block, high fluoride content has turned water into slow poison.
While the permissible limit of fluoride in water is 0.5 to 1 mg per litre, as per a survey done by Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RWSS), the groundwater in Boden has 3 mg fluoride content per litre.
Excess fluoride content in drinking water leads to physical deformities, the most common being skeletal fluorosis. It has been found by the National Cancer Institute’s toxicological programme that fluoride can cause cancer. Drinking such water makes bones brittle and also increases infertility in women. Besides, it causes premature aging, brown teeth, wrinkled skin, joint pain, premature hardening of the arteries and loss of appetite.
It was two years back that Minister Bikran Arukha had visited the district and declared that the State Government had sanctioned `20 crores to provide safe drinking water to 21 villages suffering from fluoride problem. Even the Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik spoke about it when he visited the district in March this year. Kalahandi MP Bhakta Charan Das had also informed about the Central Government allotting ` 250 crore to combat the problem by providing piped purified drinking water. But no visible step has yet been initiated.