Nalgonda district has gained such notoriety due to the fluoride issue in the nation that no political party or politician concludes their electioneering without talking about the ill-effects of fluoride on people, but without promising to provide safe drinking water.
Despite several efforts, still thousands of school students in the district are consuming water with over 0.6 mg/l to 1.5 mg/l fluoride, the permissible level of fluoride in water with successive elected representatives failing to honour their promises.
About 228 students studying up to Class X at Kothapalli village primary school and high school located a stone’s throw away from district headquarters on Devarakonda road are drinking fluoride-contaminated water. The primary school has 68 children and water is supplied from an overhead tank that is filled with water from a borewell, having 1.60 mg/l fluoride content. With 160 children, the ZPHS High School has a borewell the water of which also possesses 2.40 mg/l flouride.
The supply of water to the primary school, and an Anganwadi of 25 schoolchildren which is also located in the premises, was stopped a month ago forcing the 93 children to depend on hand pump located on the premises, the water of which not only has 2.18 mg/l fluoride but is also unhygienic.
Eggs, but no safe water
Interestingly, the Sagar pipeline goes through the village, but successive ruling parties did not make any efforts to provide safe drinking water to these schools or villages.
As the village falls under the fluoride-affected list, children coming to play-school are being served one egg daily, but that was not included in the menu of primary and high school children.
These children are served two eggs a week in their mid-day meal.
“What is the use of serving egg to these children without providing safe drinking water? B.Satyamma, 50, says that from age 40, almost everyone in the village suffers from some fluoride-related disease. When the local MLA, Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, made a promise to supply drinking water to the village and school, she said that she thought that at least the children would live without the effect of fluoride. Campaigning for the Congress sarpanch candidate last June, Mr.Komatireddy laid the foundation for a water tank in the school to supply safe water, but he made no efforts in this regard though the villagers voted the Congress candidate to power.
The villagers alleged that Mr.Komatireddy failed in bringing safe drinking water to the village despite Congress being at the helm of affairs in the State and at the Centre over the last decade. During his visit to fluoride-affected areas in the district in July 2012, then Speaker Nadendla Manohar had announced a Rs 75-crore package that included Rs 23 crore for construction of Ground Level Storage Reservoirs (GLSR) in 959 schools out of 3,450 schools, in which fluoride-contaminated water is being supplied. However, the project has not yet been completed.