The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation to give a presentation on how to reduce fluoride content in potable water in 19 states across the country.
The rights body initiated the step after taking suo motu cognisance of a media report that drinking water in 14,132 human habitations, including 1,055 in MP, contains fluoride more than the permissible limit.
According to a press statement by NHRC spokesperson Jaimini Shrivastava, the Union ministry of health and family welfare fears that a huge population was at risk of developing skeletal fluorosis, a serious health condition, due to excessive fluoride content in drinking water.
Fluoride contamination affects teeth and bones and long-term exposure causes abdominal pain, excessive saliva, nausea, vomiting, seizures and muscle spasms.
The health ministry has reportedly urged the ministry of drinking water and sanitation to ensure the supply of safe drinking water to people in the affected areas.
Observing that high level of fluoride in water affects the health of people, NHRC urged the ministry of drinking water and sanitation to make a presentation on February 9 highlighting the steps being taken by the Centre and state governments to supple pure and safe drinking water.
According to the media report, the Union ministry of drinking water and sanitation has already collected the data which reveals that Rajasthan has the highest number of fluoride-affected habitations (7,670), directly affecting 48,84,613 people.
Telengana has 1,174 such habitations affecting 19,22,783 people. Karnataka has 1,122 such habitations and Madhya Pradesh 1,055. Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh too face the problem.
In Madhya Pradesh, excessive fluoride content is found in ground water at several places in Bundelkhand and Mahakoshal. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), permissible limit of fluoride in water should be between 0.8 mg per litre to 1.5 mg per litre. A level above 10 mg per litre may lead to skeletal fluorosis.