BARIPADA: Mamuni Singh of Joka village in Bangiriposi block suffers from fluorosis for no fault of her own. The 56-year-old woman is suffering from chronic pain in her joints and back, indigestion and liver complications. Her posture is bent and gait an arduous limp.Across the village, it is a common sight. Like Mamuni, several other villagers of Joka are suffering from similar complications along with kidney disease.
And, the reason is the lone tube-well that stands menacingly at the centre of the village. Owing to absence of any other source, the villagers depend on it and are forced to consume water contaminated with fluoride and excess iron that it emits.
Located just about 2 km from the district headquarters town, Joka is like the proverbial darkness under the lamp. Development has not touched the village but more concerning is the fact that people are falling victims to preventable health problems due to lack of safe drinking water.
The extent of apathy towards its residents can be gauged from the fact that not a single politician or Government official has visited the village in the last 10 years. Tired of callousness of those who are meant to take care of them, the villagers have decided to boycott the ensuing polls. “We will not allow any politician into our village during the polls,” said Basudev Hansdah, a resident.
Adults in the village, with a population of 300, are suffering from complications due to consumption of contaminated water. The children too are afflicted with dental complications like staining of teeth and tooth ache. The youngsters look older than their age. The majority of adults are bent forward from torso making it tough for them to walk. The villagers have on several occasions brought the matter to the notice of sarpanch and BDO concerned but nothing has been done to assuage their woes.
Social activist Basudev Patra said contaminated drinking water is a major problem in the village. “Despite taking up the matter with RWSS and Health department to collect water samples from the village for testing and provisioning of safe drinking water, nothing has been done”, he said.
Sarpanch of Badikhamari panchayat Laxman Marndi said neither the BDO nor other officials concerned have taken steps to combat the water crisis in Joka.
He said at least three tube-wells under his jurisdiction emit water high in iron content rendering it unfit for consumption. “The administration had installed filter in the tube-well but it did not help,” said Marndi, adding that he had raised the issue with the Collector but no action has yet been taken in this regard.