AURANGABAD: The western bench of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has ordered the Directorate Groundwater Surveys & Development Agency (DGSDA) to submit a report, pertaining to the fluorosis-affected areas based on a survey to be carried out by the authority, before April 15.
Taking cognisance of contamination of potable water in 12 districts of Maharashtra, the NGT, led by justices V R Kingaonkar and Dr Ajay Desphande, passed the order on a petition filed by a group of lawyers from the Sahyog Trust.
The NGT also expressed its discontent over absence of some of the district collectors for not appearing for the matter in spite of issuing several notices.
The move came after a group of socio-legal lawyers associated with the Sahyog Trust, led by lawyer Asim Sarode, approached the tribunal with the survey reports. All these 11 advocates from different districts of the state have filed a petition before the NGT for the rights of the people, residents of Yavatmal, Nanded, Chandrapur, Beed, Latur, Washim, Parbhani, Hingoli, Jalna, Jalgaon, Nagpur and Bhandara districts. Many of the residents of these districts got infected because of high fluorosis content in drinking water.
The petitioners stated that the percentage of fluorosis in the ground water level in all these districts is very high, due to which persons getting affected by skeletal and dental fluorosis is also very high,” the petitioners said.
The applicants, by amending the said petition, have tried to bring certain facts before the tribunal such as the water business and digging borewells which resulted in the presence of fluorosis in drinking water in many districts of the state.
Earlier, the NGT bench had issued notices to all the collectors of the 11 districts, the secretary of ministry of health department, the regional officer the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board, Amravati, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Chandrapur regions and had also directed them to file their replies to the tribunal.
A team of the National Health Rights Commission had visited Yavatmal district and surveyed villages facing problems due to the fluoride-mixed water. Following this, the Union government had released funds through the UNICEF for setting up a tap water scheme and de-fluoridation plants. In 2012, of the 1,758 villagers who were fluoride-affected in the state, 1,011 were in Vidarbha alone.
In many villages from Akola, Amravati, Wardha, Yavatmal, Buldhana and Washim districts, fluorosis is badly affecting rural people. In 2013, by the end of August, 3,710 patients of dental fluorosis and more than 389 patients of skeletal fluorosis were found in Nanded district alone. A government survey has put Beed district on fluorosis alert as well when the health department tested 3,862 water samples from the district and found 2,402 of them unsuitable for drinking due to high content of fluoride nitrate and iron. The survey also claims that 367 people suffer from the same in Beed.
The tribunal also directed the MPCB’s regional offices to submit a report on the analysis of water quality and the level of contamination in groundwater in all the affected districts. A headcount of affected people should be conducted and they should receive proper monetary compensation and medical treatment, it stated.
One of the applicants, lawyer Sarode said, “Fluorosis is an issue of public health. But, patients of fluorosis are being neglected because they are living in remote areas of the country.”
Applicants Sarode, Smita Sarode-Singalkar, Vikas Shinde, Neha Pathak-Khati, Vinda Raut-Mahajan and Rohini Randive have appealed to the NGT that all the 11 collectors, the health ministry and and the Pollution Control Board be asked to submit the analysis of the water quality, level of contamination in ground water in the 12 districts of the state and take measures to prevent fluorosis and submit a plan of action comprising a long-standing plan.
The application also appealed that the respondents be directed to provide and supply good quality of drinking water to all the fluorosis-affected areas.