BHUBANESWAR: Rural development minister Badri Narayan Patra on Tuesday told the assembly that the government identified around 739 fluoride-affected villages in 15 districts and was trying to provide them safe drinking water.

Replying to a question, the minister said most affected areas have been provided with safe drinking water from different sources.

He said the fluoride content was high in water in 492 hamlets of Nuapada district. However, he said at present only 38 affected villages were left to be covered with safe drinking water and that would be taken up during the year.

The minister’s reply came after 18 members cutting across party lines demanded that the government provide safe drinking water to people in the area, where water had more fluoride content.

They narrated plight of people in their respective areas in the absence safe drinking water and said poor quality work by contractors for water supply and defunct tubewells at several places aggravated the drinking water crisis.

The minister said the government has planned to build 16 mega water projects aimed at providing drinking water to people.