Fluorosis in Gujarat: A disaster ahead – A report by CAREWATER

Cost of Fluorosis in Gujarat: the economic and social costs
The report by Carewater INREM Foundation on fluorosis in Gujarat attempts to understand the various impacts of fluorosis on the afflicted in terms of costs incurred on treatment, loss of productivity & output and willingness to pay to prevent & cure the disease. The study in addition looks at the awareness on fluorosis and water quality among people. It was conducted in two phases for two time periods 1993 and 2003 -
  • Phase I: Investigation of the prevalence rate of fluorosis in 25 villages from Mehsana and Patan districts of Gujarat.
  • Phase II: Detailed study of social cost from a sample of 235 households selected from 18 of the 25 villages.

It is difficult to draw any conclusion for this multi-faceted problem of fluorosis or to propose a universally accepted strategy. People need water, so they sink deep wells and eventually harvest poisonous water to an extent unmindfully and are finally caught up in the trap of irreversible fluorosis. The respondents of the study have very poor awareness about water quality and the availability of fluoride-free or de-mineralized water. Even if it is available, their poor affordability prevents them to purchase.

The question arises, what should the state or the people at an individual or collective level do, when the available fluoride content water in the village has to be used ‘willingly-or-unwillingly’? The study suggests the following -

  • Developing awareness on fluorosis and fluoride contaminated water in the villages. 
  • Providing less expensive water filters (like Activated Alumina Plant being used in Southern Rajasthan) for de-fluoridation at home.
  • Developing Cooperative-Captive Plants that could be organized by the villagers and not by external agencies. Instead of a big plant, the government could intervene to set up a plant sized up to village-needs, which can be managed by the villagers themselves.  
  • There is a possibility of reducing fluoride from groundwater by mixing river water with groundwater, which is now a practice in North Gujarat.
  • Further, groundwater should be recharged using check-dam or any other suitable procedure, which would help reducing fluoride. 

It is time to recognize fluorosis and take some preventive measures and rehabilitate the present victims instead of covering it up behind the mask of Musculo-Skeletal Disease (MSD).

Download the report here: 

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