KARNATAKA

High incidence of fluorosis in Arsikere taluk High incidence of fluorosis in Arsikere taluk

Staff Correspondent

HASSAN: People in more than 108 villages in Arsikere taluk of Hassan district are in a precarious situation. On one hand they do not have sufficient water to drink as surface water sources have dried up and the ground water level is receding.

On the other, the little water that is available is not fit for drinking because of the high fluoride content.

The water contains more than 1.5 milligram per litre (mg/l) of fluoride and villagers who are using the water for cooking and drinking purposes are suffering from mottled teeth and bone deformities.

Survey

According to a two-phased survey conducted by the Civil Engineering Department of Malnad College of Engineering, Hassan, of the 1,680 samples of water tested in Arsikere taluk, water from 271 sources was found to contain more than the 1.5 mg/l of fluoride that is permissible according to the norms.

High concentration of fluoride in ground water results in dental and skeletal fluorosis. The survey pointed out that water sources in Byranayakanahalli, Thirupathi, Gejjihalli, Katikere, Bommenahalli, Siddanahalli Tandya, and Hosakalanayakanahalli contain more than 2 mg/l of fluoride and is not suitable for drinking.

Dangerous

"Even though the Hemavathi and the Yagachi flow through the district, we are deprived of potable drinking water and the water table has decreased due to successive years of drought," Kittanna of Byranayakanahalli says.

Eshwarappa of Kattikere says that groundwater contains a high concentration of fluoride, chloride, nickel, calcium, and sodium making it dangerous for consumption.

Unfortunately, the villagers are forced to drink the contaminated water, he said.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Hassan Zilla Panchayat, F.R. Jamaadar, admits that physical deformities have been noticed among villagers in Sankonahalli, Bairambudi, Yadapura, and Eegipura.

He said villagers have been directed not to drink water from the borewells in these villages.

The problem was identified seven years ago and more than 15 people who are affected by fluorosis were treated at the district hospital.

However, fluorosis is now under control, as the zilla panchayat has installed defluoridation plants (aquifer recharge mechanism) at Yadapura and Sankonahalli to supply potable water to villagers.

Villagers, however, have complained that the filter in Yadapura is not functioning properly.

Proposal

The zilla panchayat has sent a Rs. 50-crore proposal to the Government for supplying water from the Yagachi to villages in Arsikere taluk.

As directed by the Minister for Public Works and Energy, H.D. Revanna, a survey was conducted in this regard recently and the proposal is under scrutiny, Mr. Jamaadar said.

According to Assistant Executive Engineer of the taluk panchayat, Ramu, the effects of high fluoride are visible in more than 7,000 people in 108 villages and around 2,000 persons have severe fluorosis.

According to Kempaiah of Tirupathi village, children are facing bone deformity and agriculture labourers are having problems due to the mottling of bones.

Recommendations

The study conducted by the Malnad College of Engineering recommends an extensive water quality survey with respect to fluoride content.

The study says that the survey should cover all sources of water and should be conducted at least twice during the monsoon and summer.

This is essential as fluoride is a sensitive parameter in arid areas and is affected by the fluctuations in the water table.

Zoning map

A reliable fluoride zoning map of the taluk should be created based on the data collected as part of the survey, it added. The report also suggests that the Health Department should conduct a detailed health survey of fluorosis and other conditions that are precipitated by the presence of the chemical in large quantities in the body.

The Minister for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, H.C. Mahadevappa, said on Thursday in Arsikere that a special action plan has been taken up to tackle the problem.

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