The headmistress of a government primary school in the hamlet of Doni Thanda in Gadag district has been carrying 18 litres of purified water over 22 kms to cook the mid-day meal and provide students with drinking water, bearing the entire cost from her own pocket as the high fluoride content in the village water makes it unfit for consumption.
The problem is not confined to Doni Thanda, however, as several schools in the adjacent villages of Dindur, Attikatti, Singatarayankere too have no access to pure drinking water, making their students vulnerable to various kinds of ailments.
“Around 30 students in our school are suffering from significant loss of growth in their arms as a result of their dependance on high fluoride containing water. And two months ago the classrooms had to be turned into a hospital for hundreds of villagers suffering from dengue, and malaria. The education department is paying Rs. 220 a month to provide drinking water to 166 students of the school, but this is hardly adequate as we need more than 100 litres of purified water every day for cooking the mid-day meal. We have not received any response to our appeal for a water filter kit either,” said headmistress Anusuya Thuppad of the Doni Thanda school.
Blaming the stunted growth of arms seen among some of the children on malnutrition, district health officer, B.V. Chennashetti explains that fluoride content in water can affect people’s bones and teeth. But ask Gadag Zilla Panchayat CEO, V.G. Turamuri and he claims arrangements have been made to supply purified water to all schools under the National Rural Drinking Water Project (NRDWP) and an action plan prepared to supply river water to villages so they dont have to consume water with high flouride content.