Thursday, December 11, 2014
FAZILKA: In a clear case of ignorance and insensitivity of Punjab government, Teja Ruhela - a small village situated close to the Pakistan border - infamous for children being with deformities like cerebral palsy, visual and hearing impairment, among others does not have a single healthcare facility. This, too, after a staggering number of 36 children are suffering from this problem.
Ironically, the village - with a total population of 3,000 - falling under Fazilka assembly constituency is represented by Punjab health minister Surjit Kumar Jayani. The residents allege that no doctors visit their village and there is no dispensary or primary healthcare facility.
Presence of heavy metals like lead, cadmium, arsenic and uranium in groundwater is the likely reason behind large number of deformities among children.
"With 36 children in severe deformed category, Teja Ruhela has 12 children per 1,000 persons suffering from deformities whereas the international average is 3-4. No extensive survey has been carried to the know ratio of deformities," said Pritpal Singh, who is the president of Baba Farid centre of special children, which is working on deformities among children and its causes.
Meanwhile, health minister Jayani claimed that the problem had diminished after reverse osmosis (RO) plant was installed in the village around three years ago. However, activists differ.
"Though drinking water has improved to some extent after RO plant was installed, toxic effects of water are still there in the local environment due to which the problem of deformities is still grave in the village," said Pritpal.
He added: "It is a case of multi-toxicity as untreated water from Ludhiana and Jalandhar industries passes through a drain which proved disastrous for the area, apart from excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides. Only purification of drinking water is not enough, but effects of multi-toxicity need to be minimized, which is also proving harmful for animals and increasing infertility and impotency among young people."
Members of social outfits working in the area are also critical of the government's lackadaisical approach to tackle the issue.
Baljinder Singh, secretary Border Vikas Front & Shakti and general secretary Border Area Struggle Committee, said: "Governments never bothered to take care of the village where many children have deformities. No medical facility is available in the village and people have to travel long distance for treatment of such children."
Teja Ruhela sarpanch Des Singh is also critical of the state government. "We have taken up the issue of dealing with deformities among children with the previous and current government, but we're not getting the medical facilities as the village is situated close to the border. Further, there is no financial assistance for taking care of children suffering from deformities."
at 1:02 PM