Raipur, Jun 17 (PTI) Residents of a small village in Chhattisgarh’s Gariaband district are battling kidney-related ailments, which has claimed 64 lives in the last one decade. Also Read - Pakistan PM Imran Khan To Take Vote of Confidence From The Assembly after Facing Defeat in Senate Elections

The government authorities were yet to find the exact cause of these ailments, though residents of the Supebeda village said the contaminated drinking water was taking a toll on their health. Also Read - Budget session of Mizoram Assembly from March 12

The village, deep inside a forest with barely any proper road to reach there, is located nearly 12 km from the Deobhog town in the Naxal-hit Gariaband district and around 220 km away from the state capital. Also Read - Rahul Gandhi treks Tirumala hills, prays at Lord Balaji temple

Supebeda has a population of around 1,500, comprising mostly scheduled caste (SC) and tribal people.

Ironically, while the Deobhog area is known for diamond deposits, its natives say they have no access to basic amenities like clean drinking water and health facilities.

As per the state health department records, 64 people died due to kidney related ailments since 2009 in the village.

Tarun Kumar Sinha, 30, who is suffering from a kidney disease, said all his family’s savings have been spent and land sold for his treatment.

“Now we have nothing left to continue my treatment,” the distraught man told PTI.

Sinha, who has a daughter and a son, said last year he came to know about his illness which gradually started affecting both his kidneys.

Another villager Premshila, 28, said her husband died of a renal ailment last month.

“We suddenly found out that my husband was having a kidney-related illness after we took him to doctor for the swelling in his legs. He collapsed last month while working,” she said.

She claimed that her father-in-law had also died due to a similar illness in 2011.

The woman said she was now left alone to fend for herself and her three children.

Supebeda’s sarpanch (head) Sunita Nayak claimed the villagers were suffering from kidney-related diseases due to the contaminated drinking water.

A preliminary investigation conducted earlier by government authorities revealed that the water used from a borewell in the village had excessive heavy metal content following which it was shut, Nayak said.

An alternative arrangement was made from a borewell of the nearby Nisthiguda village but it was yet to be ascertained if the water being supplied from there was clean, she said.

Another villager Trilochan Sonwani said some villagers were availing treatment in Visakhapatnam ( Andhra Pradesh) after selling their lands.

The state government had promised to give an aid of Rs 50,000 each to the affected villagers but it was yet to be provided, he claimed.

The district administration, meanwhile, said water did not seem to be the only cause of these diseases.

“It seems like it is not only the problem of drinking water and therefore, multiple tests are being conducted to ascertain the exact cause of the diseases. Samples of soil from the village are also being examined,” Gariaband Collector Shyam Dhawde said.

The administration was taking steps to tackle the problem. A water filter plant was installed in the village and arrangements were made for providing potable water, he said.

A ‘Supebeda ward’ was set up in Raipur’s Dr B R Ambedkar Memorial Hospital where the affected villagers could avail treatment, he said.

Besides, a dialysis unit was set up in the Gariaband district hospital and a sub-health centre established in the village for regular treatment, Dhawde said.

A financial aid was announced for 96 affected families and the process was underway to disburse the amount, he said.

Gariaband’s former chief medical officer Arun Kumar Ratre said he had visited Supebeda during his tenure as CMO, and found that not only the drinking water but consumption of locally made liquor was also the cause of kidney problems among villagers.

Though an excessive content of fluoride and arsenic was reported in the village water, residents also consumed liquor, brewed in villages of the neighbouring Odisha state, which has harmful effects, he said.

Ninad Bodhankar, the professor of geology at the Pt Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur, said the high heavy metal content in the underground water used for drinking purpose could be the cause behind these diseases.

“The concentration of fluoride and other metals was high in the village ground water because of the nature of rocks found there. Its consumption might have caused the diseases,” he said.

Water from alternative sources like river or pond can be a better option for the village. However, an examination was still underway to check the quality of water and nothing could be concluded till it was completed, he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.