Plan for Fluoride-Free Water in 13 Villages

India – The Nagaon administration is preparing a roadmap to ensure fluoride-free ground water in the district by 2018. It has so far identified 13 villages having fluoride-contaminated ground water.

The villages are located in Hojai subdivision of Nagaon district, 45km from Nagaon town, the district headquarters and border Karbi Anglong district.

In cooperation with the line department of the Assam government, the administration is trying to rid these villages of fluoride contamination and is also supplying supplements for treatment of villagers suffering from fluorosis. The administration began work on a war footing in the final quarter of last year.

Of the 13 villages, Kanchanjuri tops the list with a fluoride contamination of 13mg/litre of ground water. The second highest contamination (10.82 mg/litre) was recorded at Papatjuri and the third highest (2.82 mg/ litre) at Netajibasti.

The optimal permissible limit of fluoride in ground water is 1 mg/litre.

About 11,355 people live in this high-risk fluoride belt.

A public health engineering (PHE) department survey undertaken in 2001-02 had identified 1,098 people suffering from dental fluorosis and 113 from skeletal fluorosis in the area.

Nagaon deputy commissioner Monalisa Goswami said two water supply schemes are being used to provide fluoride-free water to the villages and work on another mega scheme will start soon to ensure abundance of water for the villagers.

“Our target is to supply sufficient water to the villagers so that they do not go for ground water where there is fluoride. The forest department has already been instructed to plant fruit trees beneficial to fluorosis patients,” Goswami said.

The health department said adequate nutritional and vitamin supplements were being provided to fluorosis patients of the villages for their treatment.

“Recently, our workers launched a survey in schools and villages to identify people suffering from the disease who could be cured with vitamins and nutritional supplements,” joint director of health services Atul Chandra Pator said.

The department has identified 157 students suffering from fluorosis in three of the 11 schools where it has completed its survey. “We are providing calcium, magnesium and vitamin D3 as supplements to those suffering from fluorosis. We hope routine use of the supplements will cure the patients in some months,” Pator said.

A source in the PHE department said all ground water sources have been identified and sealed in the fluoride-contaminated areas.

“We have put in every effort to ensure that villagers do not use ground water. We have provided 5 lakh litres of water to the villages so far. After completion of the third water supply scheme, the supply of water will double,” PHE department assistant engineer Hafizuddin Ahmed said. – The Telegraph

<Photo caption: Participants in a health awareness meeting on the presence of fluoride in water in Papatjuri recently. (Photo credit:  Sarat Sharma)>