The government’s woes on the water front have been compounded by reports of high concentration of fluoride in ground water in 22 blocks of 12 districts. In the wake of this revelation following a survey, the fear of spread of fluorosis, a disease caused by high fluoride level in the water, has gripped these areas, most of which fall in poverty-stricken Western Orissa. Fluorosis leads to chipped teeth and brittle bones and causes old age to set in early.

The findings of the survey show that the fluoride content in groundwater in 22 blocks was beyond the permissible limit of 1.5 milligram per litre. While Bolangir district in Western Orissa is the worst hit by the problem with seven of its eight blocks affected by high concentration of fluoride, the other affected districts are Angul, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Khurda, Kalahandi, Nayagarh, Nupada, Nowrangpur and Puri.

The blocks in Bolangir where the problem has reached critical proportions, include Saintala, Patnagarh, Khaprakhol, Gadabela, Deogaon, Bangomunda and Belpada.

The other affected blocks in the state are Gondia, Binjharpur, Mahanga, Garadpur, Balipatna, Madanpur-Rampur, Nayagarh, Khariar, Boden, Komna, Tentulikhunti and Krushnaprasad.

With crisis mounting, the government is trying to make alternative arrangements for the supply of safe drinking water in the affected areas. But experts feel that teams of doctors and public health specialists should be made available in these areas immediately and steps be taken to find a permanent solution to the problem.