Dependence on groundwater leading to dental fluorosis in 33 Palakkad border villages
The high prevalence of dental fluorosis in 33 eastern border villages of Palakkad district, confirmed by a survey initiated by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently, stresses the need for early completion of the long-awaited extension of the right bank canal (RBC) of the Parambikulam-Aliyar Project (PAP) to the rain shadow regions of Eruthempathy, Vadakarapathy and Kozhinjampara grama panchayats.
Though the State government sanctioned 20-crore [rupee] in the last budget as the first installment for the 70-crore [rupee] project, land acquisition and other related works are progressing at a snail’s pace. Once the project materialises, over 85,000 families would get potable fluoride-free water. Most of the children aged between eight and 18 years experience tooth and bone damage due to over exposure to the fluoride contained in groundwater.
The high prevalence of dental fluorosis is easily visible among schoolchildren of areas such as Ozhalapathy, Moolathara, Kozhipara and Vannamada.
After the release of the nationwide survey result on dental fluorosis by the Union Ministry, the State government has started efforts to install Reverse Osmosis (RO) water treatment plants in schools of the region to make available fluoride-free drinking water.
According to Deputy District Medical Officer K. R. Selvaraj, the Health Department is now coordinating with various governmental agencies and local bodies to install RO plants for the larger community.
Social activist Antony Paul Raj of Kozhinjampara said the region needs both early completion of the canal extension work and low-cost RO plants.
The water-scarce area is highly dependent on borewells with high fluoride content. Only very few areas are getting supply of water from the Malampuzha reservoir in tanker lorries. Other than potable drinking water, there is no other solution to the fluoride threat.
*Original article online at http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/pap-extension-to-mitigate-fluoride-threat/article19510154.ece