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NHRC concerned over high levels of fluoride and arsenic in drinking water in Jharkhand

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that despite the joint efforts of the Centre and the Government of Chhattisgarh, the number of patients suffering from fluorosis and kidney diseases is increasing due to a high level of arsenic and fluoride in drinking water in the state.

The number of total 1148 patients until August 2016, has gone up now to 1170. The villages adjacent to the industrial areas have been reported to be worst affected. These include, among others, areas in Bastar, Raigarh, Bemetara districts.

Reportedly, according to the data released by the government, 55 people have died in Supebeda of Gariaband district. However, villagers claim that 103 deaths have happened due to the diseases caused by drinking contaminated water. About 225 people are suffering from kidney diseases.

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary, Government of Chhattisgarh and the Secretary, Union Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, calling for detailed reports in the matter within four weeks including the steps taken proposed to be taken to deal with the menace.

The Commission has also observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights as the drinking water is essential to the realization of all basic human rights, including the right to life with dignity. This is the prime duty of the state to ensure safe drinking water to its citizens. Earlier too, the Commission expressed its concern over similar reports of the high level of fluoride and arsenic in drinking water in various parts of the country.

According to the media report carried on the 15th February 2018, about one and a half year back, the Central Government had issued data relating to areas affected with arsenic and fluoride. At that time, the maximum affected areas were found in the State of Rajasthan. Apart from Chhattisgarh, the States of Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Punjab, Odisha, Karnataka and Telangana are also suffering from the same health hazard.

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