‘PM Modi, Help Us’: Sonbhadra Locals Seek End to Poison Water Woes

‘PM Modi, Help Us’: Sonbhadra Locals Seek End to Poison Water Woes

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Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, please pay attention to our situation. I would urge him to meet the public once.
An elderly man’s appeal from Sonbhadra to PM Modi

Sonbhadra district in UP was famous for 12,000 MW electric power generation. But now, it has become infamous for its contaminated – and in some places ‘poisonous’ –water. While the electricity produced in Sonbhadra offers light to many houses across the nation, the district’s locals continue to suffer from use of contaminated water and sought help from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address their woes.

Water is scarce in most of the villages in this district. Those that have access to a water source aren’t doing very good either. According to a petition filed by district officials in National Green Tribunal (NGT), over 200 villages have been identified where the water is considered ‘toxic’. Hence, a massive chunk of population in these villages are suffering from different water-borne diseases.

Samples from water sources in 269 villages found dangerous levels of fluoride, arsenic and phosphorous. From young to elderly, people from all the age groups are suffering from diseases like fluorosis.

The water here is so toxic that after drinking it, we feel a burning sensation in the stomach and a pain in our knees. Many people have become physically disabled.
Pankaj Kumar Yadav, Local Resident

Rampreet Sharma, who is battling with fluorosis is unable to walk. Laxman Patel, 25, from Padhrach Jhirgadandi village is suffering from back and knee pain.

When we are facing problems of back pain at a young age of 25, how can we go to work under the MNREGA scheme?
Laxman Patel, Local resident
It feels as if I am paralysed. I have full body ache. My wife too is paralysed.
Rampreet Sharma, Resident

The excessive fluoride content in water has led many people to the verge of physical disability. In some instances, their teeth have decayed and in others, their bones have become so weak that they can barely stand with a straight posture.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) set a guideline value in 1984 that the Fluoride level in water should not be higher than 1.5 ppm (or mg/L) . But in many villages of Sonbhadra, the level has gone up to 4 ppm. Villages which have been affected are – Padhrach Jgirgadandi, Padva Kodwari, Rohniya Damar, Madhuri, Kusumha, Ruhaniya Damar, Gobardaha, Niruhiya Damar, Rajo, Bichhiari village.

Locals claim that the government did install Fluoride filters almost seven years ago but they haven’t been maintained. The locals also claim that they have approached the administration many a time but nobody listens to them.

Nobody takes care. The solar panels are not functional. We have to drink the dirty water from the well.
Pankaj Kumar Yadav, Resident

The people of Sonbhadra are not suffering from health problems but also economic and social woes, say locals. Parvati Kumar claims that at the time of her wedding her in laws lied to her and claimed to be residents of Shaktinagar instead of Sonbhadra.

No one wants to marry their children to families in Sonbhadra. People have to lie to marry their kids. I was told that I am being married in a family in Shaktinagar but later my in-laws brought me here (Sonbhadra).
Parvati Kumar, Local resident

The Quint spoke to the Chief Medical Officer SP Singh and District Magistrate Amit Singh about the issue but both of them couldn’t give us anything more concrete than assurances that they are looking into the issue.

Drinking water is the basic necessity of life. This is definitely a serious matter. I believe that we will be successful in combating the situation.
Amit Singh, District Magistrate, Sonbhadra

Troubled, ill, barely able to walk and in some cases speak, the locals are now looking up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, hoping he will intervene and help their cause.

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