Preliminary investigations into the records show that 47 people died of various causes, including diseases and natural causes. (Photo: PTI)
Sukma, August 6 (PTI): Residents of a remote village in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma district have claimed that roughly 61 people have died there in the past three years from an “unknown” disease, after which authorities moved to find out the exact cause of those deaths.
Residents of Rigadgata village located in the Konta development zone recently raised the issue with the district authorities, who said that a preliminary investigation into the records shows that 47 people died of various causes, including diseases and natural causes.
The village has a population of more than 1,000 people, inhabited by 130 families. On July 27, villagers handed a letter to the Sukma district collector, claiming that 61 people, including young men and women, who had symptoms of swelling in their hands and feet, had died there since 2020.
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Officials said he is waiting for a detailed report to determine the content of heavy metals such as arsenic in the water and soil, adding that on August 8, a team of specialists will be sent to the village to conduct an in-depth study of the environmental causes.
The villagers asked the administration to immediately send a team of doctors to deal with the problem to prevent more deaths.
After local residents raised the issue, a team of health care workers and other experts were sent there last week, Sukma collector Harish S. told PTI.
He added: “Initial investigations indicate that 47 people have died in that village in the past three years, but all of them did not die for the same reason that the locals claimed.”
Some of the dead had swelling in their bodies and this could be due to various reasons. He pointed out that initial reports of samples from water sources concluded that the level of fluoride was above the permissible limit in two water sources, while in some sources the iron content was excess.
“But so far we cannot say that the deaths were caused by the heavy metal content in the water because the consumption of water with a high content of fluoride causes weak bones and there are no such symptoms in the local population,” he said.
Even a high iron content causes complications but no sudden deaths can occur from it. There could be other environmental reasons. He added that chronic alcoholic behavior in the population could also be a possibility (for kidney disease).
He said he was awaiting a detailed report to determine the content of heavy metals such as arsenic in the water and soil there. Al-Jamaa said that the team of health officials, who visited the village after revealing the matter, conducted medical examinations on the villagers during which 41 people were identified with swelling in their bodies and suffering from kidney related problems.
The examination showed an elevated level of uric acid and creatinine compared to normal levels. He said that they are receiving treatment and that their condition is stable.
He said that among them were two severely anemic patients who were taken to Sukma District Hospital.
He added that a team of specialists will be sent on August 8 to the village to further study the environmental causes.
An initial investigation shows that 15 deaths occurred in the village this year from multiple causes, including kidney disease, aging-related problems and malaria, Yashwant Dhruv, chief medical and health officer for the district, said.
“How many of them died of kidney disease cannot be confirmed yet,” he said.
“Out of the 20 water sources examined, two hand pumps were found to have high fluoride content and subsequently were closed for use while villagers were advised not to use eight water sources for drinking purposes because the iron content in them was excessive and then limit,” he said. He said.
He added that some of the villagers had mild symptoms of CKD and further tests were underway.
He said that an assistant nurse (ANM) was recently assigned to a sub-health center there. PTI COR TKP