Human rights commission rules that children's basic right to clean drinking water had been violated
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered payment of Rs 10,000 each as monetary relief to seven children who suffered from fluorosis after consuming water containing high fluoride content. The children, belonging to Jasoda Khumji village in Madhya Pradesh's Jhabua district, developed physical deformity after drinking water from handpumps in the village school.
The NHRC order was given on Wednesday on a complaint by a human rights activist, R H Bansal, saying 29 children became handicapped after drinking water with high fluoride content in 2011. The commission asked the state government to pay the amount to the seven children and also directed the chief secretary to send proof of payment made to them.
The additional secretary of the health department of Madhya Pradesh government had informed the commission that the valve and the pipe of the de-fluoridation plant in the area were stolen, but that these were re-installed. The fluoride in water, he claimed, was within the permissible limit. He claimed that the presence of fluoride was also detected in some food articles. The district health officer examined 29 children, out of whom seven were found physically handicapped. Treatment was provided to them.
The chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh had contested payment of relief to the children, saying the public health department was neither directly or indirectly responsible for deformity caused in the children.
The commission noted that the administration had taken steps to avoid recurrence of such incidents but observed that the state government had not disputed that seven children suffered from fluorosis after consuming water with high fluoride content. It is the duty of the government to provide clean drinking water to citizens and it had failed in doing so. Thus, human rights of the victims have been violated, the commission concluded.